Rue de Rivoli, Paris, France

I spot my mother across the Rue de Rivoli. What are the chances we would collide on one of the widest streets in Paris with the largest crosswalk I have ever seen? People bloom and divide like kaleidoscope beads around her blond yellow bead head. I see her as if through the bottom of a water glass—distorted but magnified. We are both in Paris running away from different things—I from myself, she from my father. She spots me and smiles, waves. We wait for the sign to turn. Who will cross? On which side will we meet? How did genes kiss so tragically in her Piscean womb to become the mess of me? I am one-part mother and three parts loss mixed with desire and dark chocolate. I see my mother as if through a stained-glass window in the Sacre Coeur—I am scouring her sacred heart for warmth but it’s too late and there’s too much distance between us. The sign turns so I walk to meet on her side. I cross the street and become myself.

Dana Alsamsam is a queer, Syrian-American poet from Chicago who is currently an MFA candidate at Emerson College. She is the assistant poetry editor at Redivider and senior editorial assistant at Ploughshares. Dana’s poems are published or forthcoming in Poetry East, L’Ephemere Review, Daphne Mag, Blood Orange Review, Bad Pony Mag, Rag Queen Periodical, Oxidant Engine and others. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.