by Tess Liem
Tess Liem is a queer writer living in Montreal, Tiotia:ke—unceded Haudenosaunee and Mohawk territories. Her writing has appeared in Plenitude, Room Magazine, PRISM, and elsewhere. Her debut collection Obits. (Coach House Books) was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry in 2019.
I hide in my own shimmering while S. holds a plant
and their camera. On an it’s-not-the-heat-it’s-the-
humidity kind of day we slugged ourselves to Jean-
Talon market to buy herbs and succulents. I
remember myself as a crystalline lens swooning
light. Ready or not, here I rest. Exchanging
nothing for nothing halts our intention to buy. We
leave hangry. They ask me what’d you wince
through to arrive here already obliterated? except
that’s not what they said. I want them to know
I am not a tide. Except I can’t afford a property big
enough to hold all the ways I’ve changed. I didn’t
wince—my myths were more casual than that.
You couldn’t pay me
too much for the details of my first kiss. Then two
ID photos of myself expired and renewed: the
subject of a third photo. Does this haircut make me
look gay enough? I tell them I only left the
prairies because of the way it folded me up; or that’s
why I wasn’t asked home. The iris of my eye
was always itchy, making wanting seem like
darkness stitched to other darkness.