Your Cart

  • Title
  • Copies
  • Price

The Elephants


Helen Guri

When I go to the bathroom
to cry about your failures
I do it just like you
if you were me
watching the mirror
to see if sympathy is possible
then trying my best
to cry more
When two people are
in a room like this together
that’s a couple. They are rinsing
the come off, soaping their strap-on
towelling the temperature down
their legs, along their arms
it’s called flossing
and when there are three
that’s an accident
of a kind I’ve hoped for
and guarded against
since I was small.
My family did not keep
books in a magazine
rack by the toilet
they just sat
with the light of civilization
bleeding under the door
and luckily whenever
I got scared I just
bled instead
like magic into the bowl
and to this day if I
turn around three times
two hands will reach out
from the mirror’s lemoned silver
and steal my face—
there is nothing stopping this—
a ghost will appear in the silver
with my face
said my friend
who was a child with me
on some tiles that
still exist as a pattern
in linoleum
and I did not tell anyone
I am still in love with her
and you don’t have to tell me
you are now too
because feelings plus time
are public property
or they just die
in the art gallery in the middle of the day
I used the men’s for sex
leapt up silently on the seat
when the attendant came in to touch
his hair, a camera was installed
above a bald eagle’s nest
to stream their hatching
love and casual
cruelty to my face
which was gripped
by an ordinary feeling:
I like looking at them
looking like me so much
there is a room just for
being and looking
for eagles
it’s the whole outdoors
and I keep reading
it will be ending soon
but I can’t seem to cry about it
beautifully enough
you know they shit
into clean running water too
whenever it’s an option
I leave the door open
for some reason
I want my crying
to carry.

Helen Guri is the author of Match, which was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, as well as two recent chapbooks with Toronto-based press BookThug: Here Come the Waterworks and Microphone Lessons for Poets. In 2015, she was a writer-in-residence at the Al Purdy A-Frame. She is currently at work on a book of lyric essays.

This originally appeared on January 26, 2017