A Poem By Katharine Blair

What if, you say, and I lean, resigned, into the pain

of it. We’ve been playing this game for two years and it never

gets any easier. Loving long distance, I’m learning, is so much about the spaces

inbetween. Half of us held in lost letters and abandoned

texts, and small joys that came and went too quickly

to share, and so much of the rest

too painful

to say. A year later, I’ve still not told you my last memory

of your city is weeping in a stall of the airport washroom. For the loss

and the gain and because, as I sat on the molded plastic of my exit gate chair, two men took

it upon themselves to share their hate of you with the room. They were on about safety

and washrooms and ‘real’ this and ‘our daughters’ that, and I couldn’t stand

in that moment, the way the twisted metal of our chair legs connected

me to them. To that. I’m not good

at composure when my people are threatened.

You know that, love. I did my best.

My crumpled wrapper fell at their feet and I hid myself

in their imagined warzone to cry. And text J—not you. Never you.

You know I shield you at all cost—in search of a better final souvenir

of your home. Something that would give me the strength to leave you

in it. He offered me the people who love you in my absence and I’d like to say

that didn’t make it worse but I’ve promised

you I’ll never lie. When you told me the apartment smelled like me,

asked if mixing cold meds and alcohol was okay

when you’re sad, I told you anything is okay when you’re sad.

But what do we do with the fear?

What if. What if we built cabins side by side and hid

inside them forever? What if we rented a bike and rode

down the coast? What if I could find a way to keep you

safe? What if, what if letting pieces of my heart wander

wasn’t so dangerous? What if I could bring them all back here to me.