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Rachael Riley

Taking you to an Art Gallery

– after Frank O’Hara’s ‘Having a Coke with You’


was too much like stepping on someone’s heels instead of walking in their footsteps and 
you like music more than art anyway which is why you bought me tickets to that concert
that started loud and got louder until all I wanted was to get up and run into the street though 
the traffic outside was a constant stream of noise and for that too I was mad at you for days 
                                                                                                                          we heard 
that band years later in a tiny bar perched in my hometown and even then I couldn’t help 
but think the refrain was as jagged as the streets still I saw how it filled you though there was 
only one speaker in the place competing with the clang of the kitchen and I saw
how it built in you like a slow faltering heartbeat of a thing not reliable and not meaning to be
and I saw how when we ate olives off a ridiculously small plate they just tasted better and how sitting 
in the grey evening with you the rain on the window became a slow revelation and since it's 
always raining where I’m from I should have expected that but I never expected you
                                                                                                                          I’m not saying 
we understood each other then as  I would never hear the music the way you did and you would 
never look at that port town with the same grammar that I did but we tried to understand and 
that trying isn’t that everything anyway when I watch you tap the stool with your heels in a bar 
on the edge of the world or when I say it’s raining and I use that tone that is surprised is delighted and
that you think shouldn’t be associated with showers at all
                                                                                                 trying sure feels like everything on the long nights 
when neither of us stir from the couch where we lie not quite touching and not needing to

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Rachael Riley (they/them) is a poet and writer from Ōtautahi, Aotearoa. They live in Tiohti:áke (Montreal) where they are completing a BA in Creative Writing at Concordia University. Their work has been published in Soliloquies Anthology and shortlisted for the Concordia Creative Writing Award in Fiction.

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