For my first friend in America Your hand covers mine we pose for the camera and smile a 100 watt smile The American Way since immigrating here, I have learned how to park a truck discovered that shorts are not as anathema in Texas as in Cannes I understand, ordering drinks you size up, trying clothes, you size down topsy-turvy world for a foreigner, still lost in her baggage claim. You made me feel easy and comfortable like an Adirondack chair smooth wood, deep grain, eccentric shape this became my town thanks to you taking the time to show me the way to fit in with my queer, mixed-race looks different on the outside ways no vegetarians, just signs proclaiming ‘love equals a man and a woman’ you stayed my hand when I wanted to give up and go back. Now, the candles dim in the windows of the bar we once sat as if they know you are now gone, where the bird died and we buried it flowers grow up and a little crepe myrtle, mountain laurel blooms wildly across splayed streets replete with thin cats seeking their breakfast in Taco huts, the color of watermelon where I ate among the gladioli without fear. In the beginning you were like Tiger Balm rubbed over my anxiety I could make my way through the throng as good as anyone your watchful eyes on my narrow back, urging me onward how will I continue with you gone? Family, you said, comes from the heart you may find someone you love in the strangest places I found you in a Chinese buffet eating Wonton soup in my skinny jeans you asked me if I used to be a dancer I said yes, and now I unravel for a living you took under your wing, that juniper girl who didn’t know how to fit in a State six times the size of her country taught her the measure of her adopted land, how to avoid being gay-bashed and left out of BBQ invites because you don’t fit in and nothing about you ever will like the time we planted trees and you warned, never forget to be merciful, to those less fortunate white cranes flew languidly overhead, we shared Limeade and Tortas, our feet in hot puddles I recall the first time you were sick, I said, you reminded me of my grandmother and you frowned; I’m not old enough! But what I meant was; she had a strength, nobody else could see every time I went to school she’d wait in her high-waisted pants of crepe or wool tight curled hair, wearing oversize sunglasses, her brown skin against a sea of white standing below the stairs, nodding with a wink mouthing the words; You got this nobody saw that side of her, just as people dismissed you as a Jesus Freak I learned, it’s often the things people dismiss in you, that are the best parts. To the rose opening this day after your passing, I say, go now and live in the sun I hear your voice, see your face nodding, you got this I want to run backward and say please don’t leave me, don’t go but I know you have to and I have to go on alone but holding your wisdom imprinted upon my heart.
Candice Louisa Daquin is of Sephardi French/Egyptian descent. Born in Europe, Daquin worked in publishing before immigrating to America to become a Psychotherapist, where she has continued writing and editing whilst practicing as a therapist. Daquin is Senior Editor at Indie Blu(e) Publishing, a feminist micro-press. She freelances as Writer-in-Residence for Borderless Journal and Poetry & Art Editor for The Pine Cone Review. Her next personal book of poetry is Tainted by the Same Counterfeit (Finishing Line Press, coming out 2022). Find more of her work at http://www.thefeatheredsleep.com