When I see the first photo of my niece
in her prom dress, dream of the viridian
deep, I am not surprised by my tears
but by the hot, quick rush of them — a locked marvel
flung open in my chest, memory that buds
with a thousand sweet edges, like the slip of breath I held
in my arms when she was new, dew drop
on a flower I’d never seen, scent
of what I couldn’t name because love
couldn’t be this ache upon awe
upon ache, furled heart in the quiet
dark of her unfocused stare.
She used to throw her arms around me
— just because. Sail into them as soon as I
entered the room. Fall into our nutty tango,
rowed boat and chugging train, laughter
that boomed and sprawled.
Tonight, she is 17, glowing, future
glimmer and giddy joy, tells me
to stop crying when I FaceTime her
before she meets her friends, but I can’t.
Not after I hang up, leave the office, drive
home, imagine the breathless crush: photos,
words, songs, mystery and surprise.
Wonder if she’ll dance with a boy who tells her
she looks beautiful, holds her
like light in his hands.
If only I could be there for a moment,
tucked in a sliver of her laughter, pressed
to the beat in her ear.
I would rejoice and I would whisper:
“You are the magic, always. My lovebug.
My silly goose. My everything