You were a remnant of summer. Careless, an overexposure on a Polaroid. Your skin was clay-brown in the sky’s kiln and your hair was flame. Only your eyes shadow, a thicket in a sunstroke afternoon. In your brother’s shade, he always loudest, with command as his first plan and force as his second, and you, watching, learning sidesteps, learning sleight of hand. But sometimes too, laughing, and impossible to catch.
Some quickwit, you. Some small brown fox. Eight moves ahead and benevolent for it. Sharp glance, sharp bob, and a snub nose. You gave me your sewing machine in miniature, petal pink with a silver bobbin. Knowing I loved the infinite but could name only the small. Could carry it away in a suitcase.
You cried in the schoolbus. I couldn’t understand. Two countries in your mouth, neither one tasted right, nothing was right. I thought of my mother’s wordless warm circling, and in a passion of comfort, I asked if I could kiss you. Weren’t you transformed, all elbows and flat palm. I didn’t feel wrong until then. The birthday-party invitation never came. I could not find your house among the others.
Tammy Bendetti writes, paints, and drinks a lot of coffee in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. You can find her artwork at artbytammybendetti.wordpress.com, and some of her recent writing in riverSedge, Bitopia, and Alyss.