Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


The Span of a Year

in Health/Photo Challenge by

You hated Tuesdays and the color
blue, and told me the sunset tasted like
sweet tequila. I wished for tea.

I begin my novel with you
across the table from me. You laugh
at the crinkle of my nose when the foam of my coffee
grasps my tongue. The cafe is warm, a hug from all sides—
a warning wrapped in
an apology.

The sky took you in blankets, tucked
in the nook of a bookshelf, lost in the ink
of a 4-year-old letter. I pour myself another glass of wine,
my laughs dressed in lace on the crimson carpet,
as you suffocate in four paper walls
and a dream.

I see the man in the bulletproof vest
haunting the bottom of the stairs. I faint
when he says “I’m so sorry.”

My mother’s hug clutches my blue shoulders, and
in the cups Mom wants to break, I drink tequila like water
hoping it will bring me
to you.

2.5.19, 2:05pm
The police knock at the door, and the carpet is stained
with sunlight. The water in the tap doesn’t taste just right,
and we take the coffee mugs from the kitchen’s cupboard
and bury them in the concrete.

Mom and Dad don’t know that I know.

I don’t even know if you do.

They say
you had your headphones in.
Your veins must have danced too vapidly, and collapsed
from the weight of drums. It was how you wanted to go.
Mom and Dad don’t need to know that.

I find our childhood necklaces, infinite
and tangled at the back of my desk.
They’ve grown dusty,
and I hate myself.

I won’t tell anyone.

I step into your room, taste your electricity,
and leave before the code crackles.

You were left there for four days while
the neighbours poured drinks and rolled dice while
I went for a job interview I wouldn’t be called for while
your heart enjoyed it’s vacation while
your phone battery collapsed with you
2 days in
to the rest of your life.

Mom talked to the man who found you.
The purple in his cheeks sings the hymns
she didn’t let us. He sits stiff as a board and
recounts how your skin was a porcelain sea while Mom
is a pale forget-me-not.

You always said you felt forgotten. I’m sorry
you left in a dust storm, the world bustling, no one
realizing you were a victim to the breeze. Not realizing
you stopped breathing in the door
they always swept by.

How can your city be bitter
on my fingers?
How can a song feel dusty
on my tongue?

The night holds a knife to my throat, taking the flowers
I planted in the garden. In the morning, I start anew,
knowing my daisies will be gone by midnight. But why
do I try?
Why do I

You always said you felt like a burden. I’m sorry
the phone lines sighed and the highways hummed
while you sank into your mattress, watching
from the sidelines, crying about why
no one was looking for you.

I touch your door and cry as the coffee brews upstairs.
The air feels colder down here than it used to, and I know
that means you’re at your desk,
like you always were,
fading through the chill.

I finish my novel as your urn
sits across from me,
reflecting the dedication—the girl
I wished to save.

You always said you felt,
and I’m sorry.

I turn 21 in a barricade.
I wish the sunset got me drunker.

I will tell you
what no one else will
about grief:
They grieve too.

The snow shifts on a bookmark,
dying on my desk, in a font
you would’ve hated anyway.
I will tell you what the world won’t
about grief. It comes on February 5th,
2019, a blue Tuesday.
It comes wrapped in silk apologies
and a satin bag I’m
too afraid to open.


Poet’s Note

When my younger sister died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in February of this year, I felt like my world ended. In the weeks following her death, I was lucky enough to be in a creative writing class that pushed me on difficult days to express myself. This poem is by far one of the longest I have ever written, and is by far one of the most devastating, but it is the poem I am by far the proudest of.


Taylor Balfour is a writer and poet based in Regina, Saskatchewan. She is most notably featured in the poetry anthology “And We All Breathe The Same Air” published by Augie’s Bookshelf which reached #1 on Amazon’s poetry charts.

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