“Rainbow Rock-Climbing Club,” a poem by Adèle Barclay

I’m a gecko on a wall
that simulates a cliff
with rainbow grips
I’ll touch any colour
that’ll have me touch it
midway is high enough
wary of emotional cliff-jumping
I don’t mean homesteading
like that queer you overheard
at Turk’s talking babies
after only a month
I mean relentless breathlessness
and forgetting to hydrate
having met at an awkward sex party
we now call it a date
because we walked for an hour
in the rain and talked
I’ve been calling you
the person I’m excited about
you thought I didn’t like you
at first
like I said
I’m wary
of this feral quality
I sometimes inhabit
Ryan called me
an outdoor kitty
they were good
at the few words they did choose
afraid of repetition
I don’t always know
what I think until I say it
and then I say it again
to commit it to memory
I’m afraid of what
you’ll commit to memory
how you see my desire
when you’re strangling me
I live with a lot of fear
somehow it never really stops me

 

 

***

Adèle Barclay’s writing has appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Puritan, PRISM international, The Pinch, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 Lit POP Award for Poetry and the 2016 The Walrus’ Readers’ Choice Award for Poetry. Her debut poetry collection If I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You (Nightwood, 2016) won the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. She is editor at Rahila’s Ghost Press and the incoming Poet-in-Residence for Arc Magazine. She is a white queer femme settler living on unceded Coast Salish territory (Vancouver, Canada).

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