some journeys begin slowly, tentatively,
one toe inching across a border
unsure of the terrain

not this one
it was immediate
the friend-of-a-friend
(they kissed once, did you hear?)
became one of us,
peeing in the woods up at that campground
with all the nuclear

and more than that,
she became one of mine;
the precious few I cleave to,
drop everything for,
invite over when my baby is a day old
and my body hurts
and I can’t feel the joy yet
because I am in a Bad Marriage
but she has fed me
and made me laugh
and been my anchor

she told me of moving from house to house,
being a peacekeeping nomad child
in a sometimes happy childhood
not quite unaware
of the war waging about her,
“did you know,” she would say,
running her finger around the rim of her glass,
“that my name was chosen in revenge,
because my father hated it,
and he left my pregnant mother
for her best friend, who lived across the street?”
she knew this,
that she was supposed to be a weapon,
so, whether in rebellion,
or because she had no other choice,
she became incapable of fighting,
pathologically peaceful and agreeable;
she became a counselor,
and, by a lucky turn,
kissed her neighbour,
who also kissed my wife,
and this is how I came to meet my
once-upon-a-time friend
with the weaponized name,
a tendency to lateness and forgetfulness,
a heart bigger that anything
and the most beautiful drunken singing voice,

if I rewind far enough,
I find a few years, in the beginning,
when we were both happy,

she saw how my wife was fun and charismatic
and drank more than the rest of us
and didn’t work, and put me down
while praising me,

I saw how her wife
worked hard, and wasn’t that fun,
but sure could be mean when she felt like it,
and how my friend, just like me,
smiled, and moved the conversation

we kept each other’s secret;
that keeping peace
was exhausting,
that really,
we were broken,
cracked into a thousand shiny pieces
always picking up bits,
and handing them back to one another,
“here you go sweetie,
you dropped this,”

when her sister got married,
and she left the wedding in tears,
the homophobia finally too much,
I met her on my porch at 2 am
in my pjs with a cup of tea,
she in her bridesmaid’s dress,
mascara running down her face,
and we laughed into the low-rent
east end

when my second baby was born
and I wandered aimlessly about my house
puke-bucket in hand,
not sure what to do,
my friend would show up
when my wife was at the bar,
make me tea,
and tell me
“you got this, honey,
you’ve done it before,
you’re strong,
you’re a good mom,
keep on”

when her baby was born
my life was a mess;
we began to drift,
not apart, exactly,
but into fragments,
parcels of time perpetually interrupted
by our three small people,
conversations unfinished,
and only now,
at this moment,
do I understand;

we were,
neither of us,
to begin with
and parenting required
damage control

we put on our big-girl pants
went to work
managed life with grace
and a smile,
exactly as we were raised to do

my marriage fell apart first
and my good friend was there,
in the shadows,
helping when she could,
but mostly,
because life was crazy then,
I was alone

then her marriage fell apart
in a grand finale
of domestic violence,
that turned out to be
not the end,
but a pit-stop

I tried to be there,
to help her plan her exit strategy,
and promised not to call CAS,
even though her daughter
saw everything
her daughter
her mother

but she was leaving,
had left already,
was only going back to get some things…

“please, please, don’t call,”
she begged,
and I listened,
she didn’t want her wife to be fired,
they needed the money,
would need the money,
for the divorce,

I didn’t call
and she went back
and that was that
the end of us,
diverging into the one who stayed
and the one who got away,
and I think of her

with hope

1sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

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