I admire your most recent photograph,
sprawling lanky limbs across
an outdoor patio chair
in a borrowed dress, skin dewy and golden,
hair loose like waves of wheat,
eyes gazing off thinking about
whatever it is 13 year old minds think about
but I don’t see you. 

I see the three year old who threw
tantrums on the lawn of the preschool when
I pinned you in the grass to 
keep you from running into the parking lot
wrangled you into the van,
slid the door shut and tried to breathe. 

I see the one little head raised up in the dark room
refusing to nap on her mat when
there were adults to talk to nearby.

I see the shadow by my midnight bed
crying because the silver unicorn blood
in the forest near Hogwarts was
burning her brain all night long.

I hear your higher voice asking questions
on the way to the school we drove to together
at 6:45 am for three years-
friendship, sexuality, racism, history, my traitorous boobs.

I relive telling you about Santa,
you would not stop asking but were
quick to anger when we answered.
The whole holiday house of cards came
down in 24 hours.

I forgive you all over again for
throwing up hot dog in my slippers,
running from me in the frozen foods and
laughing like it was hilarious,
hours of sleep loss,
stretched skin, sore nipples,
crippling post-partum tears,
small untruths about borrowed earrings and
brushed teeth. 

You are perfect in my eyes but
you don’t look like that photograph.