Last night I bought a pack of Belmonts for a homeless man on Main and thought of you. How you chain-smoked Belmonts, how you roamed Vancouver like a myth. In Nanaimo, you didn’t wait long to shoot heroin in our drug-free home. I had just started school and had to find a new place to stay. I was pissed, Sam, but now I understand. What does it feel like to die from fentanyl? I imagine there was a moment of bliss, a barred owl gorging a squirrel after a long hunt, before blackness. Am I close? Sometimes I wonder how much of you died. Whatever led you from friends to alleys, I hope that died. Sometimes I think parts of you might still be alive. If I smoked enough Belmonts, I’d smell you. If I smoked even more Belmonts, maybe you’d reappear in my car and we could drive to Parksville and you could complain about my taste in rap while we eat Big Macs. Your mom didn’t write an obituary. I didn’t go to your memorial dinner. Sam, I am sorry.
I thought I saw you—dark and glowing under the sun, a fry hanging from your mouth—but it was just another crow.
“Dear Sam” was originally published in Plume Poetry 9.