I feel I am on tip toe
about to fall into the arms of an absent partner. Just for a while, be a tree please.
Listen. It was a Sunday, and both my brothers and I walked down Mont Royal with our father. It must have been spring because the snow had melted and our shoes felt light on the leftover sand, gritty as hope. Water streamed down the gutters in narrow rivers of intent. Sometimes we’d throw in thin twigs just to see if we could beat them to the sewer grates below which lived all sorts of terrible fates. Half way down the hill our father stopped to pick up something near the curb. He hid it in his pocket like something to be ashamed of or a surprise he’d show us later. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference. I think it was exactly in front of the house a friend of mine would live in years later with two crazy girls, one who collected bags just to be able to say that she owned something and the other counting the number of steps it took to reach the kitchen from the front door. The same house in which my first boyfriend let us put makeup on him and he was gorgeous in dark eyeliner as were the boys in my college theater class. Terrible play but the boys looked sexy, sexier than we girls who played Roman soldiers. Twenty girls in the class and the instructor chose a play with only two female roles. We had to bind our breasts, which made us look like the badly wounded. I guess in a sense we were but did not know it then. Two of those girls I was closest with died a short time ago. I had not seen them in over thirty years, but reading their obituaries made me miss them. Sometimes I read the obituaries of strangers. At least they deserve that. A whole life had gone by and you'd never met the person. Or if you had, you'd probably have never really known them. When my mother was dying, one of the last things she said was to make sure that my father did not forget to submit an obituary. I guess she wanted people to know she had died. But after that morning all he wanted was to drink until he fell asleep and deep-moan through the night. One day he drank so much he fell and never got up. He died January 1, the same date years later my old boyfriend, the one with the makeup, decided he no longer wanted to live. When the call came I collapsed on the floor and kept falling. It’s been seven years, but sometimes I visit his Facebook page to see if he has posted a message. Maybe that’s what death is. One day you have nothing more to say.
As a dual citizen, Babo Kamel
splits her time between Raleigh, North Carolina and Montreal, Quebec. Her work has appeared in the Greensboro Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, CV2, Poet Lore, and Best Canadian Poetry 2020
among others. She is a Best of Net nominee, and a seven time Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, After, is published with Finishing Line Press. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson’s Program For Writers. Her book, What The Days Wanted
is published with Broadstone Books. Find her at babokamel.com