summer turned me into a glutton.

making almond cake with peach caramel and blueberry lavender scones. peach caramel congeals in my pocket. baking chocolate cake in a muscle shirt, trying not to stain it. slow, luxurious little bits of bliss, melting on my tongue.

home is not a physical location. it is a random assortment of things that you spend the rest of your life trying to find. it’s the sound of my mother’s voice, because my own accent changed. has changed irrevocably, i think, every time, until i call her and it comes back again for a while. changed so much i don’t hear myself when i speak anymore. i hear someone else.

someone different. 

different enough that i called my tax office and broke out in a sweat when they asked for my “unique voice print” as a security measure.

home is not a physical location but a song you can’t quite remember the words to, though you hum the melody just fine. little moments in your memory. 

the way you say ‘basil’ and i respond ‘basil’. pikelets, a huge tower piled so high, eaten fresh, without butter or jam. pikelets auto-corrected to pickles, by the way. even my word processor doesn’t know what they are. 

what else? god there’s so many things. 

so many things i feel like i’ve forgotten. maybe when i come home for christmas i’ll remember them. 

it’s mostly that you can make me smile so easily. 

i cleaned the kitchen, top to bottom the other day. did the dishes. wiped down the counters. swept the floor. mopped it clean. took out the trash. then i realised, you weren’t here to help me with chores and hadn’t been for a year. 

a year. 

the scary part is feeling like i’m forgetting all of my favourite things about you all the time. 

when i lived with you, i used to learn a new thing about you every day. 

at least i have christmas, though. christmas — hot and sticky. backwards, because we still use the same decorations everywhere. snow, ice, fir trees. while i’m wearing a maxi dress that reaches the floor and letting mango run down my chin. 

i’m learning fermentation. kimchi. sriracha. garlic honey. 

it really is an art. and a science too. the first time i made kimchi, it was my best batch. i had no idea what i was doing. 

but it turned out great anyway. 

the second time, the house was too hot. or i added too much sugar. or not enough sugar. or too much salt. or not enough salt. 

the sriracha turned out wonderfully, though. 

i don’t want to say that fermentation feels like memory, but there’s something a little magic in suddenly remembering something i thought i’d forgotten all those years ago. 

often, i’ll stand in the kitchen and think of you, and wish i could offer you food. count up all the things i didn’t get time to make you while you were here. 

creaming butter, eggs, and sugar together becomes a quiet act of worship. 

i remember when i was 14 and you showed me how to make spaghetti bolognese. cutting the onion was the worst part. 

i can make it with my eyes closed now. by taste. by feel. more balsamic. more fresh herbs. 

my love for cooking isn’t necessarily something i got from you, but it’s something that i had that came through you. 

home is not a physical location. it’s the taste of the chocolate you sent me in the post for my birthday. it’s the tea you sent me that i have every day, with honey. 

it’s making something and knowing one day i’ll make it for you and you’ll love it too. 

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i knew i was queer

when i was watching mulan

the disney film

 

i was only eight

 

but i knew i was queer

when i fell in love with shang

and then i fell in love with mulan too

she was desperate

and he was warm

she smelled like woven bamboo, washed cotton and blade oil

he tasted like sweat, coffee and stubble

 

in fogwell’s gym he danced around her

like a hummingbird

just out of her reach

in fogwell’s gym she went after him

like a feline — elegantly

 

she blooms like a lotus blossom

and he has the pleasure of watching it — of feeling it, feeling her

and she has the pleasure of not having to prove herself

of sparring someone who is her equal

braid stuck to the nape of her neck

his legs melting into the mat

she says

if you told me i could fly

i might just believe you

 

she hovers over the threshold to his bedroom a week later

hand in her pocket

thumbing the braille on his business cards

the way she thumbs his dimples

 

and when he tilts his head to kiss her

she tastes like new york city rain

and he kisses her in the same way that he welcomes the rain

with violent relief and a half-finished prayer
she can’t find her grip amongst the silk sheets until the length of her spine sticks to them and won’t let go
he maps out the shape of her with his fingertips, savouring her until she cries out in frustration

 

condensation on the windowsill,

made from a collection of breaths

she watches it drip

 

while she slides back into herself
the tender parts of her made tender to the touch

tender-touch, tender-walk, tender-talk
he asks her if she’s okay

and she says

 

again