Protection Spell

Can you hear it? In twenty years, how we will laugh
about this picture. I’ve got it memorized: the bubble
that gathers in our bellies, the light trickle rumbling up,
fast tracking through our mouths, elbowing breath
out of the way. Some days I can see the silky pillowcase
you’ll make from this kelly green jacket you’re wearing,
this cotton candy handkerchief knotted around the neck
of some future dog. I don’t know what will happen to the
pinstriped pants or the clay-button vest, but this giant,
ridiculous tie will be ruined when your worst lover burns
a hole in it. You won’t mind, but I will. Only your top hat —
stiff black felt, serrated square of white paper with 10/6
in Sharpie still pinned to the side — will not change.
The thing about the Mad Hatter is that he is not mad at all.
The thing about you is how breakable you will turn out
to be. Me, I’ll hang onto this dress forever, all red and pink
and gold, all gauzy skirt and heart-sewn bodice. I will refuse
to do away with it, even after I’ve long since outgrown it.
Even if I never have a daughter, even if I do. There is only
so imposing a kindergartner can be, but I am it, fists hidden
in my royal pockets, daring anyone to dampen your grin.
Twenty years from now we will giggle into wineglasses
when we look at this photo, wondering aloud at everything
we didn’t yet know we knew. Don’t worry. I’ll keep it safe.

November 2016