CBC Literary Prizes

You Left Something by Erin Soros

Erin Soros made the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for You Left Something.  

2019 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist

Erin Soros is a Toronto-based writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. (Sanny Leviste)

Erin Soros made the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for You Left Something.

She will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have her work published on CBC Books.

Alycia Pirmohamed won the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize for Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih.

You can read You Left Something below.


You Left Something

On the autumnal equinox, back when I lived in East Van, someone broke into my
apartment to steal all my clothes.

T-shirts, blouses, dresses, pants, shoes, underwear, bras.  Just my clothes.  The
thief left one jacket.  Magenta.  I wondered what was wrong with it.

Was it too bright?  Too gauche?  It was the same size as the other clothes.  It
would fit this person whose body matched mine.

Maybe there were two thieves, giggling, walking back and forth in front of the
mirrors.  They left the iron on the coffee table, like a joke.

They stole your bras?  Said the cop, before he could catch himself.  It must have
been a teenager or a fetishist. 

I've just been burglarized.  I don't need to be insulted.

Which really isn't the worst thing a cop could do to a woman.

I felt sorry for that jacket.  It hung by itself in the closet.  But I wore it only once
again, ill at ease in what my thief had rejected.

The break-in marked a break-up.  On the vernal equinox, my lover of nine years
had ended our relationship. 

All I had to do was live, for six months.  That would be accomplishment enough.
Let the earth turn underneath me.

I could not imagine any further.

The cord of the phone twisted in my hand.

I was taking calls at a crisis centre.  Women were disappearing.  Not clothes,
actual bodies.   There is only so much you can write.

I could imagine my lover's shoes beside mine in the hallway.  I could imagine him
touching his new lover's breasts.

Just days before the break-in, I had splurged on a new suit.  I bought two.

One suit hung in my bedroom, one in the kitchen, a couple who knew how to
occupy a home and still leave room for silence.

My thief stole both.  Closets bare, metal hangers like the shoulder bones of thin
women.

Doubling does not prevent agony. 

The mirrors knew the women's faces.  Each day I saw myself where they had
been.

                                                    *

In England I rented a small flat in a medieval care home.  Under my floor boards I
found a poem addressed to the next tenant.

The poem wasn't that old.  Two decades ago, an art student had fallen in love in
this apartment.

I fell in love with his misuse of the apostrophe, how he wasn't sure what could be
possessed and what could not.

I woke one night to use the toilet and saw something too large to have come from
my body.

Brown.  Was it a towel?  Did I have a brown towel?  It moved.  It had a face.

You think this is a nightmare, but it's a rat, nosing its way out of the toilet.

I ran into the street screaming in my pyjamas.  This is not what the English do. 

The rat catcher called himself a rat catcher.  He said I had beautiful eyes.  In this
light
, he said.  I'm sorry, he said.

Upstairs, tenants found bolts in the wall where the staff once chained the
patients. 

On grey mornings I knelt on the floor of my apartment and wailed against the
waning of my fertility. 

The abortion would surface, a glass shard.

Women don't usually refer to abortions with the possessive.

Regret is a cheap emotion.  You felt such release when you did it.

The winter of my decision, my lover and I planted sweet peas, and walked around
our lake, again and again. 

He left when day equals night, when you almost believe the season could turn
either way. 


Read the other finalists

About Erin Soros

A settler from Vancouver, Erin Soros has published fiction, nonfiction and poetry in international journals and anthologies. She is a past CBC Short Story Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner. In 2019, her essay in The Fiddlehead was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and her poem Weight received the Malahat Review's Long Poem Prize. Soros has been a visiting writer at four universities, most recently the University of Cambridge. She is a postdoctoral fellow in the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University.

About the CBC Poetry Prize

The winner of the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The remaining finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

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