September 2021

Back to Issue 10

Cooling Off

By Angela Costi

That morning, Baba was a tsunami hurling page after page

of typed clause and caveat on the table of lost breakfast,

his anguish netting my hunger to swim with the sharks.


I wasn’t his daughter treading in the shallows of passable

grades, I was his lawyer without the study, like a surfer

without a board, without a knowledge of swells and rips.


Baba possessed the power of unreasonable faith in decks

of cards, in money thrown like dice, in men with gold chains

for ties, in his dreams drowning the law and, in me.


Twenty-four pages were dumped on the kitchen table

that morning, each page creating a wave of fear as I read

about a future in an ocean of debt with no life boat.


This wasn’t a shallow dive with a pricey fridge or a leak

from a guzzling car with five days to cool off, this was Baba’s

pride steering our mortgaged house into a developer’s storm.


My stomach was churning Mama’s dread when she saw Bondi

waves for the first time and ran back to shore, that morning

I was left holding Baba’s signature at the edge of the pier.