Parts of You


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Jamal H. Goodwin Jr. is an undergraduate English major at Temple University. While he finds plot and character enjoyable, he believes the potency of a story is indicated by its prose. Find more of him  [+]

Image of 2020

In the dining room, on the sofa of its alcove, that nook in the wall, you sit, Jamil, your legs crossed, your back arched—catching moonlight; again, you are thinking of me.

“Beatrice,” your dry mouth lips, as if sentiment could summon me like a ghost. Your plea floats in the air, above the checkered floor, above the table and chairs—where we and friends dined, where, alone, we exchanged wine. The echo of my name is muddled by buzzing cicadas; you scrunch your forehead.

If only you knew: then you would know that I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, “I loved her,” you’re thinking I was your North Star, guiding you home from those idiots at work, you’re thinking, What about the pillows and duvet, the bookcase, the piano?

You’re thinking of my voice against your ear; honeysweet, you called it. Above all you’re recalling, trying your damndest to feel, the side of your head on my abdomen.

Like a kitten you’d lie docile, on me, for hours. I’d stroke your back, my face with the stoicism of an Egyptian Mau. You’d purr every so often; my lips would curl into a smile. You were a seed: in moist soil, starting to germinate, but you needed sunlight. I was the rays that fostered your growth.

Wrapped in our sheets you’d scoot up and fit your head between my breasts. My hands you would grab, left and right, and hold them to your waist. My center: it had your favorite parts of me.

When my brother, Barnie, was shot, my tears saw no end. Most mornings I awoke and my eyes were bloodshot. I tried Whiskey to assuage the pain but it thrust me into delirium. I’d stumble to the curb, forgetting my own name. Nights, your arm wrapped around my shoulder. Mornings, you were nowhere in sight. Two months passed; you bought me that elliptical I hinted at. It was Christmas. My legs refused to move. You unboxed the necklace I made you and beamed. For you, I tried to smile.

The North Star is not the brightest star. It’s the 50th.

Our love: you gave and gave but my pain you did not receive. To you I gave and from you I received yet both our baggage I had to carry. On the sofa in the alcove, this you finally realize. A hand rushes to shield your tears, another folds to steady your skull.

My hope for your growth; your mirth at my piano playing; my laughs from your jests; gratuitous but kind gifts. Cradling a warm soul, ripe with potential, just knowing I could help. A collection of eight billion billion billion atoms, interlaced, sentient, to keep me company. These were my favorite parts of...

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