Since you arrived,
dear niece, I imagine every knee-high girl
as you in a few years. Case in point—
at the steakhouse last night
mid-forkful of Caesar salad,
the man with the broad back had his back
facing me in the booth, but across from him
at my 9 o’clock, on a booster seat,
a girl of about four. In a hot pink parka,
she swung her feet above the floor,
brandishing her brick red crayon
across ashy coloring pages.
magnetic. Her yellow-brown curls twirled
as she push-
push-pushed her crayon tip through
outlines of a friendly fish, her tongue dipped
half-way in, halfway-out, halfway-in
in concentration. She never sees me.
Already, the years melt
down to when the pages were mine—
I’ve squiggled outside dark outlines
more than a few times in making this life mine.
Already the years unspool
in green, orange, purple scribbles. Someday
soon, we’ll kneel at a coffee table together,
an empty cardboard carton between us,
eager to fill in the world you’ll make
vibrant with choices.