from Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel


When he talked about details—flowers, fences, individual buildings, the poetry hidden in the names of towns—Lillia felt her heart swelling with the awkward adoration for it all. p 118

I’m not a glass half full or empty kind of person

When I look I see it both ways at once.

I can’t choose a favorite cereal

’cause I think it tastes better

when there are two flavors in one bowl.

I don’t have a favorite season or a favorite color.

The one I’m in or the one I’m wearing

is the absolute best one there is

until the next one comes along.

If I had to pick a book title

to describe me

it would surely be

“Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It”


I’ve been accused of being too sensitive

too emotional, too immersed, too involved.

I don’t know any other way to be.

When I look outside,

it’s not the forest I see,

but the plants, the leaves

the rabbits, and deer who live there.


Maybe it’s the glasses.

Perhaps there was a mix-up

at the eye doctors and

I’ve been given

a variation of rose

that gives me special x-ray vision.


I see a street sign and I wonder

who gave it that name.

Was it a family?

What were they like?

Was this a name that had great meaning for them?

Someday I’d like to write a book

about the naming of streets.

I’d like to think it would

be interesting enough

to draw a readership.


I can’t help the way

the most unassuming sight

will bring me to tears.

There is so much beauty,

often where we

don’t expect to find it:

the curve of a cabbage leaf,

the brilliance of a purple plum,

and the safety of an unembellished umbrella.


I catch a glimpse of the

spectacular and try to

capture it with my camera,

to preserve that sighting with

letters and words

and the spaces between them.


I put it here for you.

To read, to remember,

to inspire and console.

So that your own heart

can swell with awkward adoration.

Help you to notice the world

around you and your place in it.

I put it here for all these reasons,

but, really, I put it here for you.

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