Short Story and Poetry Contest
Subjunctive Moods

Runner-up in the 2013 U of T Magazine Poetry Contest

She should have discovered this archaic word years ago:
uhta – the period just before dawn,
the breathing space for wishful thinking
like the time she’d hidden a note in a bread bag
asking a boy to write to her, because words
would have been enough. She left the bag filled
with loaf heels saved for seagulls outside
his door before dawn and cried
all the way home from Florida for the loss
of his long Indiana vowels, reliving the surge
when he took her hand on the beach and asked,
Would you walk with me? And she’d answered,
No, I shouldn’t. But perhaps she should have.

Uhta – the breathing space for wishful thinking
when she drove to work with a man in early hours
and the car windshield deflected words
in a way that allowed private thoughts
to come and go. She’d felt him lean
into her talkative hand whenever it found
his arm. His engagement to another
a high fence flaunting graffiti statements
like thou shalt not . . . but given the chance
perhaps they would have.

Uhta – the breathing space for wishful thinking
when she and a friend walked their dogs
before sunrise and she’d said words to him
that humour could not have hidden:
It’s a good thing you’re moving away,
she’d said, or we might’ve had an affair.
He was quick to pose a question:
Would you say that again?
And she said, No, no I can’t . . .


Listen to a poetry reading of “Subjunctive Moods” by Sandra Lloyd.


Sandra Lloyd graduated with a BSc in psychology from the University of Toronto Mississauga in 1984. She is currently pursuing a master of arts in creative writing at U of T.


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