Picture Perfect

The train jolts me awake.
Again.
I’ve lost track of how many
dreams I’ve left unfinished,
how many characters in my head
waiting for the end of a sentence that will
never come.
The only part of me that’s been asleep for the whole ride:
my foot.
I shove at the suitcase, defeated.
Like me, it has nowhere to go.
Like me, it’s a burden everywhere,
occasionally stepping on people’s feet.
My fingers reach into my pocket,
touching the glossy paper that’s
supposed to save me.
Well, the young woman in the photo is.
She looks just like me, or as I imagined she would become,
ever since she was taken from my arms.
Her fingers are long, like mine.
I envision her hands on milky white keys,
thumb on G♭, pinky on B♭;
the beginning of a melody.
My thinning fingers tap out a song
I learned
from years ago.
I smile slightly, eyes following the conservatory
letters, bright and bold, above her head.
Ghosts of piano notes play in my mind.
I see her eyes, wrinkled like mine, but
from laughing with the children
I think.
I picture little girls with their pleated hair and porcelain
skin like the dolls they carry. Little boys
tossing jacks and chasing each other in circles
as she watches fondly.
She’s much too young to be a mother but
her affection makes me wonder if she is one now.
Young, innocent, naive
as I had been.
My hands trace along wisps of glimmering hair
loose from a tight blonde ponytail.
I imagine a carefree girl dashing across town
stopping at the corner of a street for a second
before stepping into the bakery.
A girl growing up under the eyes of a loving
mother--piano teacher, maybe.
Her youthful gaze puts a smile
on everyone’s face.
I’m shoved out of my seat as the train
lurches to a stop. The man behind me grumbles
and I step into the crowded aisle.
In front of me, cloth of a trench coat ruffles.
Colors dash before my widening eyes. Something in his pocket.
Piano fingers. Delighted eyes. Blonde hair.
I’m not the only one looking for her.
Past the inching line,
through the door, I see the woman.
Almost
like the picture. A band of metal
hugs her slender fourth finger. Baby boy tugging
on her skirt. Brown streaks run
through golden hair. Black case
carried on her shoulders.
I’m at the door now.
Hesitate.
I step onto the platform.
The trench coat
pushes through the crowd. Baby boy
in his arms. Ringed fingers intertwine.
Three silhouettes turning away,
a Violin
dangling from her back.
Chestnut
highlights grow smaller.
Disappear.
I clench onto the picture.
Again,
I’m left without a story.
My sentence
incomplete

3 thoughts on “Picture Perfect

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