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Karen McAdams

Date of Birth: 1979
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Published In: The Claremont Review, The Poetry Institute of Canada, and Jones Av.


when karls' mother drowned
in the shallow pond behind their house
we wrapped ourselves in seaweed
drooled and moaned at him
with gaping dead mouths
"karrrlll... i'mm comming forr youuu"
and he would cry
and back into the cement corners of the playground
crazy karl the retard
hands flying like panicked birds to his face

our mothers told us to be extra nice to him
we smiled and patted his shoulder at the supermarket
in the frozen food aisle
while his skeleton father stood blankly, stunned
his eyes locked on occupied
like airplane bathroom stalls

our mothers made macaroni casseroles
and we would run them to karl's house
oven mitts taped to our hands
"my mother says just call if you need anything"

"m-my m-mother says s-she's coming f-for m-me"
karl in his bedroom doorway
brown plaid cowboy shirt unevenly buttoned
eyes bulging like the toads who used to live in the pond
before they cemented it over
karl's father just nods nod-nod-nod

we run home
hitting our oven-mitt hands against our chests
wailing karl's name and laughing

our mothers waiting in our doorways

Previously Published at Jones Av.