‘Tightrope’ by Carmen Pintea

The party started out fine. Five glasses later
there she is, staring at the fish in the living-room
aquarium, squinting, sending out waves of unease
a tiny ticking bomb. The fish swim in circles, unnerved.

Her hate has dimmed the lights, hushed the voices,
yet the rooms stir, corners whisper. This coziness feels
so fragile, excitingly crashable. Someone needs to step in
tactfully, pluck the glass stem from those numb fingers,

speak in earnest. The right words can weave a tightrope
of sameness, hopefully bring her down to a safe
flow of mascara tears. Past that stage of puffy-eyed
sobbing, people can be relied on to look away, not

interfere, gossip still sizzling, but someone needs
to offer tissues, exchange confessions, hold the
washroom door, maybe hold back her hair, return her
to the giggles, cheese plates, charades, keep her

distracted, gratefully belonging, hanging on
to last shards of after hours until the damp
morning chill, split taxis, keep
her unmentioned the dreary day after.


CARMEN PINTEA moved to Canada from her native Romania in 2007. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC in Vancouver. She currently lives in Montréal with her husband and baby daughter.

Copyright © 2018 by Carmen Pintea. All rights reserved.