study (v).

In the morning when we start to wake
I trace your outline with my hands
like when we were kids, we learned to draw like that. 
I am taking note
of the spine that holds you up
and the skin that holds you in
of the map of the lines of your brow
and the purse of your lips when you look at the clock.

And then, my head on your ribcage
your heart in my ear
and all the way through me.
We learn to feel, like that. 

indicate (v).

All you need to ask yourself 

whether in the morning as you are stirring yourself awake
whether looking into the eyes of your love
whether quieting yourself trying to decide what next to do
whether in the uncomfortable stillness in the everyday
whether in everything that is difficult and hard
whether considering setting it all on fire and starting back at the beginning
whether tucking yourself in at the end of your day, laboured and long, or easy,

is, "is there peace here?"

and that will quickly make things quite clear. 

way (n).

You appeared and
I began to write it down,
and I’ve kept every note.

I want to be an expert
on the way your hair falls
and the way your head turns
the patterns of your sleep
and the sound of you waking.

I know you enough to paint your laugh
and sing with your worries
and curl up with your quiet

I know every time you’ve shaken your head
at all the ways I try to show you
all the ways you make me light.

If I read it over (which I do, each day)
I see how easy it was to love you
from the very start
and in these ways:

like the sound of the wind in the grass from where you came
a constant rustle and sway
like our ankles in the water, washed by the coast
like the space between sleep and waking

like the song that swelled in me when I met you
and hasn’t left me since. 
 

[commissioned by Jon for Nicole; happy birthday! xo].

mother (n).

A few glimpses of mum that come to mind are these: 

That there was always a blanket laid on the living room floor when dinner was a picnic in February, when Narnia was read by the fire, on the floor where we learned to read. 

The smell of her room when she is getting ready (that smell of eye liner pencils and palettes of eyeshadow and blush). I would peak in, slightly mesmerized by the process and also her grace. 

Clamouring out of the pool exhausted, dripping, she was dry, and gathered me in her lap. 

Amy Grant blaring when she would mop the kitchen, 90's hair in full swing and in a scrunchie, windows open, "ask me just how much I love you, you are starlight, I'm Galileo." And also: years later, going in to Chapters and mum returning Amy Grant's memoir because it was just that boring. 

In the few months after school was done and I lived at home, our sweet morning ritual, drawn out cups of coffee, how could we have so much to say? 

And all of the times I have been quiet because of maybe doubt or embarrassment, fear, she always knows, and always calls. How did you know?
"I always know. You lived in me." 

Posted on May 10, 2015 and filed under the word project-.

kismet (n).

I wonder what our love was
(I know you loved me once, we didn't say it, but it was true). 
What do you call it
the kind of love where
you looked right into me
and I saw all of you
and we kept forgetting
that we came from the same place
and were made of the same things
and at night, dream the same dreams.

Sometimes when I am alone at home
I imagine us doing the same things.
Sometimes when I am alone in a city
my eyes still look for you.
 

belfast (n).

There was that one night in Belfast
looking down at the lazy glow of the cityline
standing up up over Bangor Hill.
I felt
so small.
And life felt long.
How could I ever fill
all the time and space
when this little island
was bigger than I could ever stretch?

We shuffled back to the car
I took your elbow
you rambled
about your kings and priests and 
strong men
with heroic names. 
I was
too young
to see how young I was. 
I sooner recognized the tired sighs of the old countrymen
instead of the sweet hymns of the holy saints. 

 

glow (v).

How silly - I forgot
in the havoc of my own doubt
that there is indeed a fire burning in me;
it has not gone out.

See the way the moss dries and curls and
burns away, it is nothing in the flame.

In the quiet when everyone else had gone to sleep
the twigs popped and cracked in the heat
my cheeks pink, I sit too close
and just close enough.
It is the fire
that keeps us fed
that keeps us warm
that cleanses us
that comforts and keeps us on.

Posted on April 30, 2015 .

new photos from iron & bragg.

A few weeks ago I spent the afternoon with my sweet friend (and former roomie!) Steph in the east end. We had brunch at Queen east favourite Lady Marmalade, I got to meet her brand new baby Ruby (who made me stop mid-sentence multiple times with the intensity of the cuteness), and then we headed to my friends Ashleigh and Eric's stunning loft to take a few pictures to spruce up this little blog.

Steph and her business partner run Iron&Bragg, and both have an incredible eye to capture natural, sweet moments. Check out their website here, and then shower them both with your love and adoration for their great work. 

[K but seriously, the cuteness of Ruby. Oh my heart.]

Thanks Steph for such a wonderful day and such pretty pictures! 

xo

Posted on April 23, 2015 .

hear (v).

Make no mistake in this: you feel how you should feel. Do not discount for a second all that arises in you. Curl up with your loneliness and longing. Honour the twisty knots in your belly. Watch closely for the swell and swoon of love. When the warning bell goes off, alert yourself to the ringing. Listen closely when your heart, like a child, expresses its delight and wonder. Sing along to the bellowing of your disappointments. No more of this, where you hush and quiet the still, small voice of your wise sweet soul. At every single moment, your heart is working to keep you alive and well. 

mysteries, yes [from mary oliver].

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity,
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

—Mary Oliver

twenty-five.

Nearly a week late, but alas, here are a few reflections after toasting a quarter-century of being alive and well:

Other than The Word Project I myself have been pretty quiet on this little blog. Trying to think of the milestones of this past year is difficult; there feels like there is little to report as far as anything flashy or news-worthy goes, but it was such a significant year in the deep, deep part of me, which is trickier to talk about. I get impossibly insecure lately about the question, "how are you?" because I find it complicated to answer, especially when the lovely people in my life really want to know the true response. The most succinct answer, most honestly, and especially over this past year, is, "I am so many things." I feel gawky and feely and complicated and awkward like a kid who cut their own bangs and is waiting for them to grow out; I feel empty and hopeful and bored and busy and hungry and numb from spending so much time per week on public transit. I am twenty-five and still don't know how to properly blow dry my hair or go through a day without my mascara smudging or drink water without spilling it down my shirt. Cool. I feel unsure about pretty much everything except that I want to start my day with a cup of coffee.

This has been a year of closing into myself to take a look around at my head and heart. This was the year my chest caught on fire, enflamed with pain and sickness, urging me to listen.This is a metaphor and it is also not a metaphor. I've taken inventory and thrown a lot of things out and I am getting used to all of the space and all of the echoing and all of the light. It was a decade of lessons, blow upon blow, grace upon grace. This was the year that felt like a coal mine, dark and deep and ashy, and sifting, so much sifting. There was so much monotony and so much stirring. This was the year that turned me into sand. I have felt myself age. I have felt myself surrender and bellow and call out to the heavens and lost hope and look for the good in the quietest of days and admit to my weaknesses and sink into the depths of loneliness and, on more and more days, I have been able to pull myself out. 

I am humbled by the intensity of this last year, how eloquently it was written, even the brutal barrenness, even the days of hollow eyes and empty hands. I feel bewildered by it all, all that has happened and all that hasn't. And mostly I am humbled by the kindness of others, the friends and loved ones who have fed me and encouraged me and reminded me of my name when I forgot it, who have scooped me up and held me close and listened and most of all laughed so brightly that the silly impossibility I so often feel melted away. 

Cheers to being young and silly and bewildered by this complex and brilliant world, and to lightness, which I wish more than anything for all of you. 

xo j.  

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under from jess-.

cover (v).

8452c99aee445ff2139578335a205c18.jpg

It is the greatest shame
that we become buried only by ourselves
our own fear
our own doubt and questions
it is our own shovel that takes us down.

where have you gone my love
up up to the attic
off, off far away
you've covered the windows
so you wouldn't know the time.

I will come looking for you, always.
I will dig, even if only with my hands
I will uncover you from the soil
I will lay with you in the earth
I will, when you are ready, take your hands and help you rise.

name (n).

When was it that I became so scared and sad? I have muddied it for myself, rustled up a hurricane with my worry and doubt, ripping leaves off trees, piling too high these bricks and books, clenching too tight the ropes in my hands. 

Here it is - I will go back to the Beginning and remember how simple it was, how clear: I want to be a river, I want to be always Spring, I want not to be the poet but the poem itself. And (possibly the most important), I don't need to be anything else. 

affix (v).

My steps have become laboured and slow
I have become aware that I let my insides turn to lead
when I gave my centre to another
let them decide when the sun rose and set
And when the tide came in and left

I'm not sure we should have anchors at all;
cut the chain and send me out to sea
I want to feel only the weight of the sky on my skin
only the certainty that I am my own.