I challenge myself to write about you without sadness

without loss, without keening

instead, observing joys, even bite-sized beguilements

like the time you danced and all the things you’d said

about being a great dancer, were true

and everyone watched like you had broken out in flames

I wanted to go around saying “yeah, I’m her daughter.”

Perhaps in a cliched way you were the prototype

for all the women I admired afterward

they had to have your grace, knowledge and small shoulders

how you wore high-waisted pants like a Charlie’s Angel

curled the aserbic wit of your interstellar mind like wreaths of smoke

I didn’t feel I could compare, with my ordinariness, unlovely

how bland my straight hair and white knees

to your brown arms draped in gold and the sheen of your afro

you bought me my first perfume at 12 and a little compact with

lipgloss & that weird shiny eye cream everyone wore back then

it looked a fright with my blanche complexion just as

your comb didn’t get through my tangles and my brush

snarled your varnished ringlets

I could only grow onions in my window, it let in so little light

whilst you faced the sun and had avocados and bay

you showered whilst I bathed, the slow dissipation of people

in that we were always separate, clashing before learning

to describe estrangement & nostalgia when we ought

to have embraced and eaten crepes with chicory & coffee syrup

I remember you wearing a t-shirt as a dress

with a lamé belt and Souliers Adige sling-back heels

how you’d walk into a room, all 5’3 of you and knock em dead

big things come in little parcels that’s true

playing the piano under the stars at the Lamonts

“les Shadoks” in the background, kids shrieking

in OshKosh, drooling Pommac, half-enraptured by

your profonde vocals like you’d chewed on cigars

cooking Kamounia or Potatoes Dauphinoise

the flick of your wrists, a hundred herbs like poison rings

grown men would cry over your food like it

opened gateways to heaven, glugging Chateau Lafront-Rochet

they’d stare at you like no man has ever stared at me

and rightly so; transported gypsy, jet locket against your clavicle

roaming in terraced houses like a lost treasure, too exotic

for suburbia or even Paris, les yeux en amande, you left a trail of admirers

including me, when you ran off to the bright lights

never looked back, trailing lipstick on ironed handkerchiefs

that smelt of cumin and frangipani, your 30 franc, copy of Rue des boutiques obscures

pressed flat under a wooden box of turkish cigarettes

little marzipan figurines wilted in Summer

when you sent postcards in your bold cursive script

I traced the hearts like tattoos and sniffed the edges

of your hand-me-downs, like by smelling you close

you were accessible, out-of-time, like saying une vedette in the 90’s made no sense

a girl speeding down roads in a silver Porche

a woman commanding others in Moroccan pants and certitude

the remnants like kilim rug whispers at the end of a record

when all you think you hear … is static

I’d read the books you’d read thinking

maybe I’d grow up to inherit your smarts

or the polyglot tendencies of your desegregated genes

speaking different languages in a multitude of countries

you said I shouldn’t try to emulate but it was hard

we look piercingly into shadows when our eyesight is poor

I listened to your music and traced the window ledges

where you contemplated jumping, as you chain smoked

watching drab rhododendrons fill the air with cat piss

the neighboring woman hanging underwear on a sagging line

the color of cold tea

I knew even then

like the burgundy roof top foxes

you’d been priming to leap

and I couldn’t blame you a bit

you remind me even now

of a velvet collar

worn only to fancy events

if lucky enough

to be invited

little pearls sewn in a semi-circle

when around your neck

they shiver

as if still urging to return

to the sea

6 Replies to “la disparition”

  1. This caused quite an ache in my heart, so I cannot imagine the one that’s in yours. The poem, in its entirety, is flawless, Candice.

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