at Christmas I stare
and stare at your daughters who
look so eerily like you.
your older girl seems all right,
I know you’d be glad. she’s a regular
kid, plays with ponies, laughs in shrieks.
it’s only sometimes I see
the terrible shadow stretching
out behind her, a skid mark.
that purple bruise faint under
her skin, just there.
it’s her I worry most about.
but your youngest, crawling
into my lap, fools me.
smiles a dark familiar from your eyes.
she hugs so freely
I’d like to imagine it’s you,
sneaking in to say hello while
her soul’s still malleable
already she has some words, soon
she’ll be no one but herself;
you’ll have to find another way in.
Meredith Adolph lives in Toronto. After a hectic year of working full-time as a cook and studying shiatsu therapy part-time, she hopes for a quieter life, one that includes more writing. Her work has been included in Bent on Writing, an anthology released in spring 2002.