How the body survives such evil gifts, I cannot know.
After that, I can’t lose the sense of a just-shaken snow globe.
Even in the heat of July, flakes cling to my lashes,
blurring the faces of people and clocks.
My body is an instrument of grief, keening for that little girl,
but my mouth stays as silent as 4am.
I have turned this box over in my hands so many times.
I have closed one eye and then the other,
examined it from the inside and the outside,
trying the understand the sense of it, hoping to find a
crumb of justice.
Always I conclude the same thing.
This was no gift. There is no silver lining and the blizzards keep coming.
There is just the string of days carrying fear
swaddled in sunshine.
It will have to be enough.
It has taken me eight years to answer my mother’s letters; this is my reply.
It has been hard to reconcile your treacherous cunning and unrelenting mean streak with those soft pink hair curlers in my sister’s hair when she was three years old. You must have pulled her close in your lap, taken hank in hand, then brushed and rolled each one, snapping the plastic in place over and over. She wasn’t crying that day. In the Polaroid, her smile is wide and framed by those majestic Ohio buckeye trees.
Why does a small child cross the road with curlers? Why does one snap a precious photo? Was it a special occasion despite the patches on her jeans and the hand-me-down coat?
It is difficult for me to imagine the calm and care it took for this task came from your hands at all and because it seems so unlikely, I have kept this photo for years slipped into the dictionary, nestled near the word untrustworthy.