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Waylaid at the canal crossing - Tonya Lailey

I watch the water lift the ships to pass, which explains why I don’t make it to the airport nor to San Cristobal de las Casas, nor into your life. I would have called that evening but my cell died and the following day your questions in my inbox had lost ground, like songs leftover playing

to a sticky floor without dancers. Another time,

unable to locate a suitcase large enough

and unsure what to bring, I pack myself

into a house with another lover and rummage

for my belonging, which I find I’ve misplaced

somewhere in night creams and Sauvignon Blanc

and bed sheets from the Bay and in the blue

hues I roll onto walls. I can’t tell you the number

of times “I need to leave” loiters on my tongue,

prepares my mouth to say it, but the census

taker knocks, the duct-cleaner calls, a robin

strikes a window. And so the days shuttle

themselves into protein slabs

and roughage we stab and chew

into sustenance while Jeopardy’s blue light

washes our faces. That evening Dr. Mahalingham

asks if I’ve been sleeping, I say the cat needs

out at midnight and in at four and that a pulse

drums my ears in-between, so I sleep only

a wink before my daughter phones

to ask how I’ve slept. Mid-summer now, the nasturtium seeds I bought stay pinned to my bulletin board in their lurid package.


Tonya Lailey is currently an MFA student at UBC after working in vineyards and in the wine trade.


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