John Brighenti CC
Music Festival in Oro Medonte, Ontario, July 2015
She wore a crown and a sash that that said birthday princess
and I wore a onesie, her pink striped one that flowed
from me as freely as the freedom we were seeking.
We told each other that we were the best-looking ladies at the ball
and I told her I wanted to find someone to kiss
but she wrapped her arms around me before I could walk away
and I wrapped my arms around hers
and forgot about anyone that I didn’t love
and I didn’t kiss anyone.
30,000 people filtered through the field
elaborate feline face paint and inflatable unicorns
showing side boob and doing handstands and
laughing sparkly rivers down their cheeks
and I ran smack into the former love of my life
wearing an orange tie-dyed tank top that I always hated
and an expression that was both surprise and regret.
That kind of thing is always happening to me, to us,
and he hugged me and it felt like strawberry ice cream
and I wondered if I was really lactose intolerant after all.
He turned to leave and I remained.
like an abandoned sandal kicked off and flung without a care
from its crowd surfing owner.
A hologram of a man passed through me
dipped a finger into one of my tears and placed it into his mouth
before turning into a horse and galloping away.
When she found me I was crying with my hand over my heart
listening to Kendrick Lamar spit instructions to the crowd,
sit down, drank, stand up, drank
pass out, drank, wake up, drank
which is not exactly the whine of a tiny violin the moment called for
and I told her
I can feel it breaking
and she put her hand over mine and said
I will put it back together.
Instead she slipped something round and white into my mouth
in the middle of Girl Talk's 3am set,
and my heart sped up along with the music.
My blood pulsated in rhythm with the flashing lights
I couldn’t tell if I was terrified or homesick
or simply having the time of my life.
Hands raised all around us as if in prayer,
worshipping in unison to a higher power, to a Messiah
which was simply our own energy and the thumping bass.
Neon lasers shooting from the stage right through our bodies.
At some point I tried to turn myself into the police
but she saw me and quickly guided me away
she said they would not keep me safe
but that she would.
I drank enough water to drown out the music
then we lay hand in hand in the grass on our backs,
a cloudless blue sky above us, swelling with hope,
an inviting blank canvas on which to paint a possible future.
Neil Young crooned in the background
I've been first and last
look at how the time goes past
but I'm all alone at last
rolling home to you.
He took breaks to throw handfuls of organic cherries into the crowd
and we placed our hands on each other's empty bellies
and talked about how full we felt,
how for once, we weren't hungry for anything.
For once, we wanted nothing at all.
Tharani Balachandran (she/her) is a first-generation Canadian, lawyer, tea enthusiast, reader of books, lover of gossip and writer of poems who lives on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen speaking peoples in Victoria, British Columbia. If you have loved Tharani or she has loved you, chances are you will end up in one of her poems. Tharani is a frequent performer at the Victoria Poetry Project’s Tongues of Fire open mic and was an ensemble member of the 2020-2021 Fireworks Mentorship Program for spoken-word artists. She recently self-published her debut chapbook entitled Love in the Time of Corona.
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