2022 Poetry Collection


a river, suffering because the reflections of clouds and trees are not clouds and trees.

       — Czeslaw Milosz (Esse) 

i thought i loved you

honestly, i really did

our bodies moved in the sort of synchrony

that takes years for swimmers to master;

you and i, though, 

we found rhythm in just a smile

being fucked by you felt like poetry:

easy, primitive, natural, predestined 

just for me

we danced complex dances in your twilit bedroom,

the heat of your skin becoming the 

surface on which I performed feats of great acrobatics.

as i said, i thought i loved you

i really did

there’s nothing i wanted more than

to be able to paint the contours of your body

being kissed by the sun coming through

the blinds like an unwelcome guest

but i’m not da Vinci and perhaps you never

were supposed to be my timeless Giaconda

i thought i loved you,

trust me, i really did

if i had to tell you the truth,

my lips had begun to form the shape of

history’s three most cliched words

far before you could’ve known or anticipated it

i would swirl your name around my tongue

like mint chocolate ice cream on a white-hot day;

playing with its tones and trying to findwhere exactly in those alphabets _ _ _ _ _
i could find a home.

i grew hungrier for you, to snatch your name from the air

whenever I heard it in passing, to stop time and suspend i 


in between the syllables of y o u; 

and if i didn’t chance upon it myself, 

i would scheme for hours with an uneasy anxiety

on how to insert     somehow into any conversation


that even remotely flirted with the topic of love;

i thought i loved you,

honestly, i really did

our bodies moved like Fitzgerald’s prose

snaking through Gatsby’s lavish parties:

observing, appreciating, exploring 

every bare inch of skin 

dressed in the pretence of night-time.

i thought i loved you, 

i really did—

until i remembered “you” were more fiction

than flesh; more mine than your own;

more me than you; so much more so

that “you” hardly belonged to yourself anymore.

in fact, i remembered, i had conjured 

almost the entirety of our romance

in the panels of my own mind

with barely any help from you.

suddenly i felt intensely grateful

for all the I Think I Love You’s that

I’d forced myself to swallow 

before you could taste them,

for the opaqueness of feelings    between

                                                  u               s

even while we spent our nights naked.

maybe i should’ve fallen in love 

with a cloud or a tree,

and not the fickle promise of a reflection;

but the poet falls in love with an unfaithful impression

and describes a thousand unsolicited feelings anyway.

Shanai Tanwar (she/her) is an undergraduate student double majoring in psychology and English literature at the University of British Columbia. Born to Indian parents and raised in Dubai, she interned with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Cosmopolitan Middle East before working as an Editorial Assistant for Canadian Literature, UBC’s scholarly journal. When she isn’t petting dogs around campus, you can find her reading Victorian fiction or writing for The Ubyssey.

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