I’ll Remember the Girl Who Called Me Mom
by Laurie Kolp

You probably won’t remember me but I’ll remember you
with glassy, button eyes you tried so hard to keep open
on Monday mornings when you’d twist your winter coat
into a knot, place it on your desk and hide your face
until I noticed. I’ll remember your dimples when you giggled,
how the light brown hair at the scruff of your neck
curled like mine when you wore a ponytail as I did,
which you pointed out. I’ll remember your finger, how
it was smashed by steel drain in trailer park
parking lot. You said you tried to lift it on a dare,
but it slap-trapped your middle finger instead. Oh, how
you fretted over that bandage for weeks, stitches pointing
out like cat whiskers, fretted until we noticed
the odour. I made you promise to ask your mother
to take you to the doctor, but the next day you told me
she snipped and pulled the stitches out while you slept.
When the dead nail finally hung like the snag on your sweater,
you turned green as slime just thinking about pulling it off.
I’ll remember when a boot heel from your boots from Goodwill
came off— how you flopped around the room with the sole
hanging like a tongue, slapping the floor. You were scared
your mother would kill you, so I super-glued it back on.
I’ll remember when you gave me a small box
of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. You shared a secret—
you wanted me to have the candy, but you wanted it, too.
I tucked it away for the day I’d do anything
for chocolate. Weeks later you told me
all you had to eat in the trailer was Ramen noodles,
Dinty Moore beef stew, said you were starving
as you eyed the heart-shaped box still untouched
in my cabinet. I grabbed it and gave it to you.
Little did I know that was the last time
I’d see you—that weekend your mother’s boyfriend
shot a cop at your door and you were taken away.