It sounds like the high-pitched sobbing of a woman
whose husband calls her a cow, tells her she looks like one
with her swollen nose and pink eyes, staring and injured.
Some people wrap their legs around heartbreak
until their veins hurt. They’ll buy you a coffee
then offer up each bruise
like a foil wrapped candy from a giant purse. You’re stuck
nodding your head, a spring-necked doll
with the paint peeling off your face.
And when they start crying, insisting on sharing
every detail, you find yourself
handing out tissues like a bathroom attendant
with a knife in your pocket. Something hidden and cold
against your thigh, the stranger’s hand that forces your skin
to remember, no matter how many layers you wear
or the number of times you move from one big house
to a bigger one, as if all a marriage needs
is one more room. Don’t you wish that
the expanded walls could somehow contain
your own whimpering, then you wouldn’t have to bump
into it, at night where it wanders down the halls
in the melting light of a blue candle.
You can see it now at the corner of your eye
flickering itself back into the room.
You stick your head out the window, scream at the dog.
Babo Kamel hails from Montreal, Quebec and now resides in Florida. Her poems have appeared in literary reviews in the US, Australia, and Canada. Some of these include Painted Bride Quarterly, Abyss & Apex, The Greensboro Review, Alligator Juniper, The Grolier Poetry Prize, Contemporary Verse 2, Rust +Moth, Mobius, a Journal of Social Change, and 2River Review. She was a winner of The Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize, and is a Pushcart nominee.