by Lisa Shen
[Content warning: suicide]
There are suicide flowers along the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail tonight: a
lattice of pastel pinks and yellows encircling the sidebars of the bridge
overlooking the highway.
How strange, lifeless flowers tasked with protecting the living.
My first thought is who would try jumping from this height in the first
place. I know enough about falling to know that this distance won’t quite
cut it — but then of course I know enough about falling to understand that
sometimes you try anyway — and so my second thought is
There are pastel blue post-it notes scattered around the flowers, their paper
shells glossed with plastic tape to stave off the rain that has seeped through
the cracks and dissolved their writings anyway: half-washed out helpline
numbers, sharpie hearts smeared from the wet sorrow of a lonesome sky. I
can barely read most of them —
and my third thought is of how many people have stood on this ledge,
watching two rivers of white and red stream towards and away and felt a
longing so complete it swallows the heart, or if it is only me, perched on this
windswept steel ribbon of night, hands gripping the flowering metal in fear
of losing my balance while the part of me that is tired whispers
what if you did
and there is one blue sticky note that has not yet fallen prey to the rain. In
letters as deep as the night:
not a bad life, just a bad day.
What a small, feeble attempt. Petals fighting asphalt. Plastic fighting rain. A
single railing decorated in a highway of metal and night — and my last
thought is if it would make a difference. To the lonesome heart, unfurling
itself along the bridge at twilight, and to that I reply
yes, yes it would, yes.
Lisa Shen is a Chinese-Canadian writer and spoken word artist based in Toronto, Canada. Her work centers on gender-based violence and disability rights. Lisa was the first place winner of the 2021 Mississauga Poetry Slam, and a Speaker at the TEDx McMasterU 2022 conference. She is also the winner of the May Open Drawer Poetry Contest by Britta Badour. She has performed at several arts festivals, including the JAYU Human Rights Film Festival and Humainologie Short Story Festival. As a passionate teacher, Lisa has created and instructed debate classes for youth. She is passionate about bringing the joys of spoken word into classrooms through workshops and showcases.