I could always recognize her
by the turn of her knee and ankle
inverted feet wishing dearly
to point at one another in reverse
clown with no humor
that little imperfection
marked her out in crowd
woman who would be a girl
forever knock-kneed
wearing her childhood like a badge of honor
I survived to give you life
gratefully I carried her bags
as a child learning the weight of things
is secondary to the measure
of devotion
my mother once taller said
I wish you did not stain your clothes
looking up then down I could see
the streak of popsicle on white linen
thankful for her wisdom
pitying my own boyish ways
rather I hang upside from a tree
mouth stained by plums
gazing at the day than
fit into couture
sorry for my disarray I said
sucking on melting ice
my teeth turned red and briefly
I imagined myself a vampire
hunting night for life
she smiled and stood slightly askew
just as once she must in school uniform
age evaporated around us both
I, the adult carrying the bags
heavy in my heart the knowledge
one day she would not be there to
open doors for
teaching my chivalry and the pursuit
of manners and beautiful women who
also had slightly turned ankles
as if they knew not
how to be perfect
it is in that crease we find
the tenor reminding us
this girl who wakes up ironed
is not the one we shall recall
on a rainy day looking out
but the one who stood in the snow
knees nearly meeting
making snow angels with
smudged lipstick and scuffed