Allan Rae

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Welcome to my online portfolio, home to what I feel constitutes my best literary nonfiction, poetry, flash fiction, & photography, with links to my published work, as well as the occasional editorial or research update.

Letters Never Sent


It was on a night a few weeks ago, after a poetry reading I attended at Indigo from an author I enjoy. Walking home in what still felt like winter air, cloud cover heavy, my mind was full of thoughts. Stopping on the east side of the Danforth Bridge, I took a long look back at the fading light over a city, then snapped this picture.

I suppose I was wistful for many reasons. So much so I even thought of Roger. It had been years since that fateful night. When someone breaks up with you via email, it’s a tough thing to forget. It took a long time for that anger to cool, but like all things, the white hot sting of pain eventually subsided. I have never seen him since that night, but for a brief time we kept in touch by email. Perhaps I felt something could be salvaged, a small nugget of good in what was just a highly dysfunctional mess. Whatever bonds had been there it was clear they were down to their last thread. We continued to correspond, talked about his and my moving, his job, my teaching, the weather. I attempted to explain The Handmaids Tale, and he attempted to listen, and in an attempt to spare us both, I actually suggested the film may be “more linear”. He would talk about the future renovations on his future condo. And if I was not feeling particularly generous, I would toss intentionally deep and stinging barbs over his part in what would never be.

For the best, trust me I know. We were a sinking ship for a long time and God knows where I’d be now if we hadn’t made that break. I guess my biggest regret in it all was that I sold myself short. I settled for what I knew could never sustain me.

And then Joe, I thought of you.

Listening to the poetry reading earlier, I had remembered our whirlwind romance and the impatient, hungry sex, but more so that feeling of being found. Though on the sex part, why is it the best sex is always with the ones that romantically are a mistake? Because not long after was our growing realization that maybe we were better off just being good friends. In a way, I was wrong on that one, too. Because what turned from a misguided romance became not just a friendship, but by far the best friendship I ever had.

I don’t know if you remember, but we were at dinner during the biggest thunder shower of the year. The waiter had brought the wine and you offered to taste it. It was the moment when I noticed the visible pulse on the inside of your wrist. God, there is such immense vulnerability in that place. The weight of that was something my face couldn’t hide, but instead of turning away you held my gaze for the next several minutes.

No words required.

Joshua Radin’s shoelace song playing softly in the background, the perfect backdrop to such a moment. As the storm outside the window raged on for hours, I was unaware. Because when you have what it is that you require, the world, and everything in it becomes a mere irrelevancy.


Days later we would laugh, saying it was just our shitty luck that what became our song so effortlessly, softly floated into our lap a few months too late.

I remembered all of this as I walked the final blocks home, and behind me the looming skyscrapers and century homes fell away, becoming the warehouse district and what is now my neighborhood. Crisp air rustled branches above as I climbed the steps to my street where no shadow was cast on the pavement, and I wondered how you are fairing, with your new life on the east coast. Do you think of me often, or ever remember that night? I wondered if you miss me as much as I do you. And if you knew how much I wanted to tell you this. Or did you know that in spite of what people call my craft and skill, I will never say it quite right, though I’ll grow and cut back and probably grow again through the trying, I will fail. Comforted by the fact that my hungry words, inadequate as they are, will be enough.


My Own Private Blue

A Bird Without A Window Never Alters The Crack In The Glass