From the Archive: Catriona Wright (CAROUSEL 31)

Staff/ November 4, 2020/ Poem

Catriona Wright

My Roommate

is in love and can’t disguise it.
Cara loitering on his lips,
a tickle at the back of his throat
begging to be coughed out.

When I pour milk into cereal
I learn that Cara is lactose intolerant.
When the radio begins to blare Wagner,
he tells me Cara studied German
at University.

The strawberries he eats
are the colour of Cara’s favourite dress.
The birds sing in Cara’s soprano range
and Cara’s skin is soft as the butter
he spreads on his toast.

His world is Cara-
centric. He’s become Cara-
noid and I begin to feel dirty as I see
the flush on his neck with each Cara
hushed to me. I don’t want to be part
of some endless foreplay, so I
begin to eat breakfast in my room.

After a week of rolled eyes and sighs,
he learns to choke back the Caras
accumulating on his tongue. At least
that’s what I think until I realize he’s smuggled
her elsewhere. He asks me how many carats,
pointing to the speck of light dangling
from my neck. A telltale pant beneath the question.

Does he really think I won’t notice the amount
of caraway seeds he sprinkles atop his mac and cheese?
The magazines folded open to Dodge Caravan ads? True,
his growing turtle sculpture collection stumps me
for a while, but only until my memory
reaches into the back, retrieves carapace.

When I catch on, ask for the carafe of coffee
or if he likes caramelized onions, he stops
being so obvious. But his desire
is a contortionist, can fit into one

syllable, into the spaces between
syllables. You never know what
will precipitate a slackened jaw,
a muted moan.

So to avoid being part of a Cara threeway
I don’t leave my room much these days.

I can still hear his love through the walls.
The crunch of carrots fills the apartment.

Catriona Wright is the author of the poetry collection Table Manners (Véhicule Press, 2017) and the short story collection Difficult People (Nightwood Editions, 2018). Her short stories have appeared in Geist, Joyland, Grain, The New Quarterly and Room. Her poems have appeared in Prism International, Prairie Fire, Fiddlehead and Lemon Hound and they have been anthologized in The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry and in The Best Canadian Poetry 2015 & 2018. More:

My Roommate
appeared in CAROUSEL 31 (2013)— buy it here

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