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KIND OF ANIMAL ❋ Kyla Jamieson

This work comes from the collection Body Count, which was shortlisted for The Metatron Prize for Rising Authors.


sometimes it’s exhausting
to be awake and alive

at the same time. with my
concussion comes tunnel

vision. this is not a metaphor.
the periphery disappears

at first, every touch, all light, all sound
registers as pressure in my head

whenever i am awake i am also
in pain. even so, i want to be awake

when i go out it’s in a hat
and sunglasses with headphones

in playing nothing. i pass people
i know who don’t recognize me

and am too tired to change
their minds. i lie in the dark

and dictate my texts to siri. siri,
siri, make a note: i’m high on pain

Jess takes me grocery shopping
once a week, tells me

she doesn’t know how to love
someone without wanting to see

them all the time. i don’t want
to see anyone all the time. i tell Jesse

i think i love him but am not sure.
i aspire to both give and refrain

from giving compliments
in a sincere manner, so it means

something. at the pharmacy
an elderly woman in a motorized

wheelchair tells me to go ahead
because i look like i need it

it sounds melodramatic but all this
not moving is killing me. i dream

of swimming every night for a week.
each day i walk slowly around

my neighbourhood holding my own
hand. the dandelions appear

overnight. on my way to vote i run
into Michelle, who’s going to her

parents’ 40th anniversary dinner.
i never understand why people

get married but now it makes sense
that she did. Selina is grieving

her relationship and reading
self-help books. i’m thinking

about hope and positivity.
it’s not cool but it is pragmatic.

while Jess drives i look out
the window. a man is removing

dead hedges, revealing a pool.
through my blinds i watch a pink

balloon blow around the yard
next door and get pinned against

a railing. the next day it’s in
the parking lot. the day after that

it’s gone. spring arrives, summer.
my mother’s birthday, solstice.

i organize my rock collection
and photograph shadows. i ask

siri about the weather and to define
brilliant. my brother graduates

from college and i’m not there.
i order him a lululemon shirt online

because gifts matter to him.
i give up on movement and making

plans. i miss swimming with Alanna.
she moves to toronto because

she can’t find a place in vancouver
it takes two years for me to turn

a stranger into a friend
i wonder what kind of animal

that makes me. maybe i’m
some kind of tree.