What we see

Ride Your Happiness by Eddy Sara, used by kind permission of the artist 

I just returned from a visit to my large, loud, loving Italian-Polish family in the Cleveland suburbs. As we often do, we told stories and looked at old family photos.

A poem came today about one of the photos: a photo of my brother and cousin, in their t-shirt and tank top on a humid summer day. I was four or five when the photo was taken, and I remember that day in the park with my large brood of a family with clarity.

Even more, I remember how that day felt. It lives in my body, still.

What we see

There is a photo on my phone –

my brother, five, or six, my cousin, four or five

as they sit on the fender of my aunt's car,

the hatch up.

My cousin holds a cupcake in his hand

and they both are smiling.

I remember that day in the park –

I remember coloring with my cousins in

the trunk of the hatchback.

I remember my white sun bonnet and how my

aunt's boyfriend, José, teased me and wore

my hat on his head.

When I look at the photo,

I can feel the warm rays of the sun

on my sticky skin, and the warm

thrum in my belly: what I hold

from that day.

When my aunt sees the photo,

she sees my cousin's crooked bangs

and she laughs –

“I wish I hadn't cut his hair myself.”

I don't see his crooked bangs.

I see the light in his eyes, the way they

crinkle when he smiles, the way he

sits, shoulder to shoulder, with my brother.

I see the innocence we all carry,

the innocence we lose.

I see the innocence we return to –

and the way we do this for each other.

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