Short Story and Poetry Contest / Winter 2018
Somewhere Between Me and the Desert

Winner of the 2017 U of T Magazine Poetry Contest

There’s a trick to it, the twenty-nine bullets
shimmering to the floor.
You could use a screwdriver.
You could use a different part of the gun.

How best to telegraph my harmlessness:
arms extended, blood still pumping
through the chambers of the heart.
Palms out: away from my body, away from yours.
The universal signal, the hope for recognition
across a great distance. How long would it take?
To see whether I was a danger to him?

He says he was never a good shot.
He says after dark, the sky arced with red light.

There’s boredom, mostly, then panic,
then boredom again. I grew up
between the ocean and the desert.
Then I opened a book and saw it: that other sea.
In a way it was still mythological.

The grime-streaked children. The helicopters lifting off,
a whirl of dust. I don’t know what it sounds like
when you stand that close. It’s only cinematic:
the boots, the guns, the pregnant woman
walking towards the border from the other side
with nothing and nothing behind her.

In class, we divided into two camps. As an exercise.
That was when he was learning his party trick, with the screwdriver.

I don’t know what sound it makes, the bullet in the chamber.



Laura Cok (BA 2010 UTSC, MA 2011) won the 2009 E.J. Pratt Medal in Poetry from U of T’s English department. She has been published in Prairie Fire, the Literary Review of Canada, Event and Arc. She lives in Toronto.

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