11 Desire illo

Babo Kamel


She’s showing leg, hoisting her skirt
until the black garter tongues at the hem—
a flicker of silk, humming, humming
in the bones. She’s calling

the way the dead call to each other
when they discover how transparent
they’ve become. You can see
right through her

to the open-throated moon
in her chest, the stars
swallowing, swallowing.
She’s bathing in night’s ocean

repeating your name
like a whalesong
as if she could touch you
through sound.

You cannot stop her. She pulls you
inside the waves until
her salt-sprayed skin becomes
your skin

and you’re drowning without her
in a swirl of froth and seaweed
among the broken shells, drowning
in your own empty arms,

your mouth, a flooded cave,
and everywhere
are the moon-blind eyes of fish.


Babo Kamel’s poems have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Alligator Juniper, The Grolier Poetry Prize, and Contemporary Verse 2 among others. She was a winner of The Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize, which was published in Lilith Magazine. She has poems forthcoming in Rust & Moth. Originally from Montreal, she now resides in Florida and has given away most of her winter clothes.

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