Like An Almost Vow
I am 7 years old at Bubby's house in the den.
Granddad is teasing, joking -- he's full of tricks.
"Say what I say," he tells me.
"Just say it fastfastfast."
I nod. Bite my lip, ready for whatever question will come.
He asks: "I love me who do you love?"
"Me!" I answer, quickly, jumping to my tippy toes to answer fastfastfast.
His face falls.
"What about me?" he asks. "Don't you love me?"
Shame floods my body as he tells
Bubby, my mother, my aunts and uncles and cousins
that I love myself more than I love him.
"You've got a big head," he tells me, and that
becomes my nickname.
as I sit next to Bubby's reclining chair in her house in the den,
I hold her hand and
remind her who I am.
"Why do you have all those rings on your fingers?"
"I don't know, Bubby," I say.
"I like them.
This one," I say, pointing to the silver rose I always wear,
"I like because you gave it to me."
"I don't know why you wear those things.
You look like you're married to yourself."
"Do you love yourself?" she asks.
My breath almost catches on my answer
but I hear myself say
like a New Year promise
or an almost vow.
and silence falls between us in
that forgiving place somewhere between