Weekdays from eight to three she is like everyone else.
Her best friend is Tucker
Sometimes they climb up the slides together
But only when they think
you can’t see them.
She can spell her name
But only if you remind her what the first letter is.
C — as in Cat.
That’s actually the first three letters of her name
But you aren’t counting.
Monday at lunch she ate the crust
Off the marmalade sandwich her father had forgotten to trim.
You put what snacks she didn’t eat in the filing cabinet.
Storing them like food for winter—
A rainy day drawer of sunshine Sunny D.
That way on Wednesday when she turned to you
And told you she wished she had fruit snacks
You could give them to her.
Daddy sent them special for you. Isn’t he the best?
She was pleased. Your heart somehow felt lighter.
Days passed and suddenly it was the end of that first week
She brought in a build-a-bear
And stood in front of the class, swaying back and forth
Clutching the animal like a shield.
She is a three year old built of enough kisses to last a lifetime.
Together you sat on the bench next to the carpool line.
At your request, she counted how many blue cars drove by.
She kicked her chubby legs back and forth,
Still gripping the teddy bear.
It is pink, like the laces on her light-up Dora sneakers.
Now the color stands for
So much more than it ever did before.
It is the emblem of a battle lost,
A tear-stained teddy stuffed with
The fabric muffled words of a warrior.
Her daddy arrived red-eyed and unshaven
She was the proud owner of his only smile.
In that moment, you thought of the drawer filled with snacks
Of the lopsided pigtails, crust encircled sandwiches
And the build-a-bear stuffed with mommy’s voice.
You wish cancer didn’t exist for Catalina.
|Catalina the Brave |