BellaOnline Literary Review
The King and I by Karen Sorbello


Hope & 7th

Charity C. Tran

dark gray steps
a mountain to climb
the short cut
cut short
boarded up
in yellow plastic signs

older woman leading the way
arms heavy
weighted by a cardboard box

younger woman following behind
arms heavy
weighted by the stroller
that had carried

the little boy in-between
inching slowly up the mountain
small right hand gripping tightly
the silver banister as belay

slow, timid steps
of tiny feet
as his tiny teeth
grip the teat of a baby bottle
that swings from his lips
as his canteen

and i,
shoulders heavy with my own pack,
stop short
the gravity of my familiar pace -
the start of my downward climb -
to stare down
at his little face
at his curled hair peeking
behind a small hooded sweatshirt

"Do you need help?"

i reach out my hand
my two fingers nestled
in the tight grip
of a small sticky palm
and i
climbed the mountain backwards
in slow, timid steps

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