All night I’m harangued by what the future lets in. What remained unsung returns in full vibrato. My default is bemused astonishment and sometimes astonished bemusement. Despite my best efforts, I’m no less bewildered than an ancient sea insect crawling the gears of a Victorian phonograph, overdressed for the occasion. The future wants us to believe in it, needs to feel needed at all costs, a clanging furnace in the basement. All the children I never conceived appear to invite me to their weddings. Here is my beautiful black-eyed friend Nathan who waded into the Styx, come to anoint my forehead with fruity oil. And here, the younger half-brother who was never born, waltzing with me among the birch trees. Forget lifelines, heart lines, the palm’s tendrilled roadmap leading us into gardens more tangled than when we left them, no regard for the campsite rule. Forget the graphs, numbers blurred into glyph and rooster claw-mark. Ghosts nuzzle our chests with stubbled chins, taking layers of skin as they go.

Lisa Richter (she/her) is a Toronto-based poet, writer, facilitator and educator. She is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017) and the award-winning Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020). Her work has been nominated for the Best of the Net, a National Magazine Award, and is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2024. More: lisarichter.org + Twitter @lisaontheroad1 + Instagram @lisarpoet