Narrated by Babo Kamel
Every morning that yellow bus waited
with its sharp teeth and buckets of seats, each one empty.
I lugged my schoolbag burdened with names.
The ride was long; made many stops.
Girls got on, dressed in daisies, and the boy they called pear head, too.
Other boys looked at us sideways and snickered.
All through the day, I had to drag my grandparents’
names around, live inside them, become the refugee
with a story I could not remember.
I sank into that silence—wore it like a cloak.
Later, I hid behind different versions
of the names, made them lighter,
changed the spelling.
Once I tried to lose them by running
down the block just after snowmelt
but I wasn’t fast enough, slipped back.
But last week it came to me
just like that, the wind was blowing dust around,
a sand hill crane was pecking at some insect.
I tossed him my names
one by one
watched each lump move down his throat.
BIO: Originally from Montreal, Canada, Babo Kamel now resides in Venice, Florida. Her poems have appeared in literary journals in the US, Australia, and Canada. Some of these include Painted Bride Quarterly, Abyss & Apex, The Greensboro Review, Cleaver, The Grolier Poetry Prize, Rabbit, Contemporary Verse 2, Rust +Moth, Mobius, a Journal of Social Change, 2River Review, The San Pedro River Review, Redactions, The Inflectionist Review and Bracken. She was a winner of The Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize and is a three-time Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, “After,” is published by Finishing Line Press. You can find her at www.babokamel.com