It was going to be one picture to start with, (I have only so many hands) but the canvas kept growing. She kept digging through the stack until it was a whole pile of people I needed to tell her about.

Hands me the first:

"I had my mouth full of food to keep from telling him off. Keep your hands on the wheel is what slipped out finally, but really I meant was Keep talking. Don't stop. I am sure he got the message anyway, I could not stop listening."


"And I do not intend to stop".

Hands me another one. Here, this. Tall, what else?

"There is the time he needed to save a bird. Crossed the street into traffic, knelt gentle to pick it up and kept crossing to another side. Slowly into a patch of fenced in greenery. There. You will be safe. What he might not know is that is everything he is always saying".

Which is?


She nods, sooner than I expected her to understand she has grasped it. And passes me a photograph taken sideways.

"This one is the coolest cat. Moves like a silent dream, talks trash which is so thin a layer on top of sincere regard. Ask him anything about my city and he will have the answers. (Modest)."
"This one, here, is most apt to curl up on a couch and sleep like a kitten. I do not mean he is boring or tired, I mean it is almost ridiculous how much fascination he holds inside him quietly. Say Delightful"

Cigarette burning so it is mostly ash, I am so intent on my descriptions I cannot stop. She laughs at me and pushes over the ashtray, at the same time gesturing to another of the photographs scattered in front of us.

This one?

"Ha. That one can be summed up in one word, goofy. And then a whole stack of others, including but not limited to charming, sweet, and gangly. Also there is the grin, evident here in color, not even half captured."

"And this boy, over here. It is the only picture I have, notice how he is brow furrowed with intensity? I can’t say for sure but I am near positive he is a gangster. In any case, he has always given me the best (not practical, but real) advice. That music I have playing? It was a gift he gave."

And these? Her, and Her?

"The one is all beautiful words mixed with understanding. Have I told you about finding a long lost sister I didn’t know I was missing? It is her. And the other is pudgy toddler handprints on a clean wall. Delightful."
" There are more, you know, but I have told you about them already and I am tired, would like to fall asleep with this sweetness still in my mouth. Yes?"


Did I expect her to understand how much these people are? It did not matter, exactly, it was more like soda fizzing up that I could not keep inside, bubbling over my edges. (I could tell, anyway, that she half comprehends, she found some thumbtacks and covered my wall with these people. When we woke up, they were smiling at us.

She was leaning against a wall,
holding a drink in a red plastic cup
gingerly, with only the fingertips of both hands,
as if it held something valuable

the way people hold fragile plates or
baby chicks

She was listening intently to someone else's story
oblivious to the rest of the room,
not paying attention to the three or four strands of hair,
fallen across her face.

Someone needed to brush them aside.

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