Week 1 of Syntax Sundays: Michelle Nguyen

We are excited to begin our new feature Syntax Sundays with Michelle Nguyen, an English student at Ryerson University. Her first piece, Paper Plane, is a spiralling prose that captures the powerful, lingering impacts of loss, regret and circumstance. Her second work is a poem entitled Snow, which chills and warms the reader simultaneously with its winter-esque imagery. Check out the duo below!


Paper Plane

I think that you’re stuck at work longer than you intended which always happens with you because they always ask you to stay. I just found out that my flight was pushed ahead and is leaving two hours sooner than it was meant to and you’re not answering your phone and I won’t be able to say goodbye because they asked you to stay and you listened. I wish I could’ve stayed that easily, too.

I wish I could’ve told you all the things that are running through my head right now and it seems like they’re only spewing out at this moment because my heart is going to burst because I know I can’t say goodbye to you. I wish I could’ve just gone back and rearranged the old and called it new and fixed it all and maybe this wouldn’t hurt so much. I wish I could’ve said all the things my hands were eager to show but my head was too shy to let happen.

I wish that when you said, “how are you doing today?” I could’ve told you how much I loved the way your hair fell around your collarbones like ribbons out of a basket and how your skin smelled of earth and sun and clarity.

I wish that when you said, “we should go for coffee later tonight,” I could’ve told you how your voice resounded through my veins like a shock of electricity that I kept revisiting throughout the day—and that I was so nervous it took me an hour to pick out which shirt to wear that night.

I wish that when you said, “what do you want for breakfast?” I could’ve told you how fitting your body felt encased in mine that morning as if your bones were watermarked into all my smallest crevices.

I wish that when you said, “Your boney hands feel like home,” I could’ve told you “I love you, too.”

And so I sit here anxiously waiting for a reply I know I won’t receive because you think that the flight leaves at 8 and it actually leaves at 6 and you were supposed to be done work at 4 and it’s 5 now and my chances of seeing you again are 0 to 0. And as I grab my bags and slug over to the gate I regret all the things I didn’t say and I wish I could bring to life all the ghosts of the words I never could tell you but all I have now is this piece of paper and the unquenchable regret that maybe I should have kissed you goodbye.



Two trails once snow falls, finally set in
Hidden in plain sight, no one knows but them
Under trees with white sleeves where they grew up
They might get snow in boots, like they used to

“What is it like to get old and weary?”
“Who protects you from the cold and lonely?”
He said, “I’ll wrap you in my scarf, always”
I asked, “What if it pierces through my heart?”

Let us put tangled Christmas lights to rest
Blow out the decorative candlelight
Lay with me by the fire and let’s hope
That the new year is met with the same warmth



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