I could always recognize her

by the turn of her knee and ankle

inverted feet wishing dearly

to point at one another in reverse

clown with no humor

that little imperfection

marked her out in crowd

woman who would be a girl

forever knock-kneed

wearing her childhood like a badge of honor

I survived to give you life

gratefully I carried her bags

as a child learning the weight of things

is secondary to the measure

of devotion

my mother once taller said

I wish you did not stain your clothes

looking up then down I could see

the streak of popsicle on white linen

thankful for her wisdom

pitying my own boyish ways

rather I hang upside from a tree

mouth stained by plums

gazing at the day than

fit into couture

sorry for my disarray I said

sucking on melting ice

my teeth turned red and briefly

I imagined myself a vampire

hunting night for life

she smiled and stood slightly askew

just as once she must in school uniform

age evaporated around us both

I, the adult carrying the bags

heavy in my heart the knowledge

one day she would not be there to

open doors for

teaching my chivalry and the pursuit

of manners and beautiful women who

also had slightly turned ankles

as if they knew not

how to be perfect

it is in that crease we find

the tenor reminding us

this girl who wakes up ironed

is not the one we shall recall

on a rainy day looking out

but the one who stood in the snow

knees nearly meeting

making snow angels with

smudged lipstick and scuffed


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