All grown up

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

possible,

bright.”

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