we whispered missing years

fluttered legs over a withering porch bench

she mixed my hair with white fingertips

to keep the itchy thoughts away

the walls of my grandparents’ house held me close,

my surrogate womb

we shared more than blood and color as

time licked her blonde with

heavy waves of fruit and nicotine and

I didn’t mind

she sung sticky secrets to me:

nights she dreamed on the streets when

rent was too high and

dads that come like rain:

big and loud all at once,

then gone

fingertips padded quiet paths along budding curls while

“Mom” sat sweet and safe against my tongue

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