I Leave Behind Me

by Joelly Cameron

I am the man you pass by near the Baron Fork Bridge.

Every morning at 7.

The one you can never look directly at.

This coat I wear has faded along with my auburn hair.

The smell of your aftershave reminds me of better times.

Before death and rape took what little was left of my mind.

My family.

My name.

As my children look up to a better man than I could have ever been.

I am the mother who brings the man near the Baron Fork Bridge hot coffee, spare change and rolls each morning.

The coat he wears belonged to my father.

Before the War took what was left of him.

I can still hear his booming laugh in the living room.

While my sisters and I played dress up.

I love the way his eyes crinkles up in the corners,

When he smiles and tells his story to me.

On repeat.

Only he doesn’t know that we share the same story.

That we share the same name.


His yearning to be home suffocates me.

I leave behind me my blood, each day

His booming laugh.

The living room I grew up in comforts me

While he eats alone in a cardboard box for one.

I am one firework display in Atlantic City.

By hands who could afford me.

Listen to me scream as I raise high above you, if for only a small moment.

I cast my colorful glare above you, my audience.

Only for a brief, and expensive moment of glory.

I leave behind me waves of dirty smoke in the blackest of skies.

As what was once my audience looks on to a better firework than I could have ever been


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