POEM: “You From Australia?” —

“You From Australia?”

And by god, you wouldn’t shut up!
You complained about the young workmen
their entitled millennial attitude
wound up, you weren’t wrong.

And between my spilled drink
and our meals and pints of Guinness
you spoke frustrated about buying a house
working too hard, then working late on fixing it.

Balls deep, mate, in snow up to your ass
thick of winter, on a roof fixing it up
“An investment property,” you’d get your money back
or that dream to get to Vancouver with any luck.

The winters sucked here compared to England.
But remember how I thought you were Australian?
Us both, freezing our knickers off in the winter!
Stood waiting at the clinic, you’d gotten there an hour earlier.

Sat on the Australian side of the truck, heating up,
waiting for the Appletree clinic doors to open, fuck.
I was first in line – no make-up, snowpants and parka.
You were looking weathered and 47, I loved it.

And your banter was custom
you’re that kind of character,
and we continued on into the clinic
I was first in line, you second.

And they called our names:
Sylvie Hill, _______ Atkins,
I steadied you so you could remove your boot
and put the blue Smurf booties on to go in.

“Thanks dear,” you said, like I was a sister.
No problem, bro, I was thinking in laughter.
We sat each in a room across from the other.
Me Rx renewal, you – we joked after.

As I left, I left my number
into the fold of the boot’s tongue,
tucked under.

When you texted your spelling such shit
I laughed cuz that’s typically a favourite!
He said, “I like your style, I’m keeping your number.”
And I thought how just like that, one morning in winter.

That spring we fought at trivia
I had Laura Baranigan right, your accent won Dionne Warwick, lost us the point.
I drank too much talking to mates
While you patiently waited to walk me home after, late.

And the hug you gave was the tightest I’d have.
Strong: believe me bones inside me breasts would crack.
And what a man, what banter, patience, so handsome.
An early start to the morning – as a carpenter.

And Mr Atkins was a wild one, funny, and free.
But I remember long conversations on the phone once with me.
We spoke about how being brave or pioneering or travelling
is sometimes easier with a partner to bounce things off of, indeed.

And you – surrounded by your friends, colleagues, and fans
could you smell my kind a mile away – the ones who want your hand?
Who want to paint a porch together, massaging your hands in evening
and laugh at you as you vent your day, but also take you seriously?

Oh, it’s been since 2013 that I’ve thought of anyone like that.
But I do tell folks there was no one interesting came across my path.
But there was once that Mr Atkins, our phone calls and silly texts
And one night of trivia, a really strong hug …

… and the bastardized invitation for bacon at an early breakfast.

Sylvie Hill, December 31, 2019, Montreal