Who is that little girl,
Who holds the baby boy so tightly?
Chubby fingers splayed against
Baby brother’s corduroy bottoms,
The texture imprinting itself into her palms.
Shaping them, a purpose.
She dares the camera.
Her pale tot cheeks do not smile.
Who is the little boy,
Who stares so dazedly at the camera?
Deep-sea eyes caught in wonderment,
A soft smile, sucking in on his lower lip,
Delight so heartbreakingly bare,
Happy to be held.
I hold her memory in my hand,
This little stranger.
Her arms tug him back against her
Like she already knows that little boys grow
To be taller than their sisters,
And that she will start to lose
Their races round the weeping tree.
Years passed would not forget
To take with them
The small bundle of her brother,
A high-pitched laugh,
A time when she would spin him above her head
Until he’s forgotten all his scrapes and scratches,
And is laughing
Until it’s just her toothy smile
And the world in smudged pastel,
A watery soft focus.
She can’t keep him
From broken bones,
From the realization
Not all is made for eyes of wonder.
She can’t keep him.
But in this captured frame,
Stolen from our infinite, passing frames,
She does not show her gaping teeth.
Here, she can protect her sea eyes,
Crossed to stare more directly
At this new, brilliant light,
At those of us who stare back
On the other side where time keeps passing.
She cannot hold him forever,
But she could hold him then,
Gripping his infant clothes,
Daring us to pry them from
Her pathetic grip.