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british columbia

She is a devastating and wonderful
curator of the trite.  We sit
on the steps of the museum, trading
air.  Furious and wistful,
she pours premixed cocktails
down her throat.

C’est une histoire démentielle,
she mutters, glaring at her hands,
the veins luminescent under
transparent skin. I think of the water,

of the cedar-furred shores of
Lake Superior;
of fiery sunsets rolling wild
over the Marlborough Sounds,
sending the cormorants to sleep;
of the gold-manicured Viaduct
back home.

A trip down memory lane ends in disaster,
someone said, so
I put the clean skies out of my mind
and instead think of her, and lose myself
in my fatalism. 

It’s only each other’s locked-up
nostalgia for distant homes
that we really love,
I’m sure of it.

But the girl is a wildcat when she is framed
by these sad concrete evenings.

A ghostly moon coalesces out of
ghostly clouds.  She hurls the empty
bottle of Carlo Rossi into the
stuttering fountain, sending glass and
stale water leaping upwards.

She says she hates this place
with its drivers of kitschy Trans Ams,
but she knows she is beautiful
as she says it,

and the net of stars over purgatory
is unexpectedly pretty;
if I should die before I wake,
it will not be in want
of sweeter skies.

Grace Lee is an aspiring poet and fiction writer living in Auckland.  She is the winner of the 2015 National Schools Poetry Award.  She is currently writing short stories by choice, and essays by necessity.