How long until the pictures won’t make me cry?
I ask not in the same way I wonder
how long I’ll wait for stretch marks to fade
but in the way I used to ask
how long your fall break was, so many years ago
to know just how tightly
I’d need to hold on
before losing you to a high rise in Philly
or a split-level in Virginia.
I still don’t want time to steal anything from us.
I want to remember forever how you looked
hunched over the warming bed
as curled-toe feet kicked air
pink hands took innocent swipes at the nurses.
You were the first to touch her
so it was your love she learned first
in the strength of your arms.
She’ll realize its permanence, as I have;
it’s not the kind that’s allowed to depart
like warmth leaves an unmade bed.
She doesn’t know she’s the reason you’ll do certain things:
You’ll slow down
stop swearing at other drivers
(you’ve written yourself reminders)
And still won’t understand
when she’s the one driving too fast.
And even what she can’t perceive
but will come to know with each passing year
has marked her,
how her name is written on your car’s dashboard
as well as your heart,
the former in black marker.
Jessica writes for adults and children in Lancaster, PA, USA. She volunteers as a reader for Ember Journal, contributes to Wildflowers Girls Magazine, and is pursuing publication of her picture book manuscripts. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaWhippl17 or visit www.AuthorJessicaWhipple.com.