Smushed up all
over her chubby face
Her hands squeezing and smearing
Her first solid food all over her tray
So cute, so pure
I laugh and spoon her another.
To peel it
Her hands stronger than before, but they're unaware on what to do.
I slowly teach her how.
Start from the top, peel down,
One, two, three.
Her eyes sparkle like dew in the morning
She throws her arms around my waist.
"Thank you, big brotha!" Her sentiment is muffled in my shirt
And I pick her up and take her to preschool.
Decorated all over her nose
She wipes it briefly, but she doesn't care
Keeps shoving piece after piece in her mouth
The icecream dribbles to the floor
But I don't care
We just talk and laugh
About her 3rd grade subjects.
Slice after slice is what I gently pack in her lunch box
Draw a smiley face on the ziplock bags
She draws a heart next to my "Have a great day!"
And "Don't lose your shine!" notes.
Her friends ask to trade
Her fruit for their desserts
Because they want to go on diets.
She always tells them
She tells me this as I pick her up
From the bus stop
As she waves her 5th grade report card, all A's in the air.
Slowly spooning and plopping it
Back in the bowl
I watch her play with her dessert
But not putting it in her mouth.
I talk and talk, but she doesn't laugh and talk
As she usually does
I peel everything myself
From the top, one, two, three
But she just folds her arms on the table.
I'm almost done eating.
Then she says,
"No one asked me to Homecoming."
And she hops out of her seat
Her 6th grade report card, full of C's,
Flutters to the floor.
I place silver spoons
In the icecream,
That I placed
15 minutes ago
Waiting for her to come home
So she can gossip about
Her 7th grade teachers,
Her friends, her favorite subjects.
Maybe I should add more to this split?
More fudge? More cherries?
No. Not cherries.
She only has one favorite fruit.
I glance at the sundae.
It's starting to melt.
I wait and I wait
I make the same creation
In different ways.
In circles, in cubes, longways, wideways.
She says stop stop stop.
But I can't stop.
"It's your favorite," I say.
"Yeah, when I was a kid," she says.
"It will just make me fatter," she says.
"I'm supposed to be pretty," she says.
When I go to her room
One day to fetch her 9th grade project she forgot
(Which never happens)
I almost slip and fall
From all the glossy shiny covers scattered in her room
Filled with shiny, glossy models
Cosmetics are everywhere
I leave, trying to convince myself
That at her age
All of this is
One day she doesn't come home.
I wait and wait, her icecream a full puddle,
Her favorite fruit slices sliding away
I slip on a peel
I forgot to pick up.
Tears rush in my eyes
But I clamber to my feet
Throw on a coat
Go to find her.
It doesn't take me long to find her
She is barely recognizable
But I know my sister--
She is on top of a car,
She has her hair teased up
Her skirt barely brushes her legs
She looks like she's only wearing a bra as a shirt...
Boys jump around her
Reaching to touch her.
She is swaying to the loud music that's playing
Her bright red lips
Are latched on
Her favorite fruit,
I have never seen her eat it like that.
She does it over and over,
The boys are hooting.
Her eyes are suggesting.
But I look closer.
A cry for help
That I have not noticed for the past few years,
Are present on her made-up face.
It all makes sense now.
I stride over, yank her from the car,
Roar at the boys to go away
Yank the banana from her nail painted fingers,
Hearing it splat as it falls between us.
"You are more than this," I say quietly.
She glares at me with her new look.
She throws a cuss word,
Not at me,
But at the ground.
She throws her arms
Like she used to do at 5.
And she whispers,
She starts crying.
I hold her close.
She smells like Hawaii and cigarettes.
"Banana split?" I whisper.
She shyly lifts her head.
"Yes," she answers.
I drape my coat around her, to cover her up
She gratefully accepts.
And we order two ginormous banana splits
And we eat and eat and eat and don't care that the icecream
is landing more on the floor than in our mouths, since we are too busy talking and laughing
And we both peel our bananas, start
From the top,
One, two, three
And we throw the peels
So we don't slip
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