We are all about
commemoration
especially firsts.
After mom dies
I find my baby book,
a universe of dates
activities, offerings
for a small miracle.

First gift: giraffe
First visitor: Aunt C
First word: dog
Beneath the heading:
first haircut,
a brittle, browning tape
holds down
a soft curl.

A dental chart-like
illustration takes up
two pages: cuspids
bi-cuspids, molars,
each numbered
underneath
in dental code.

In the middle of
each tooth’s pulp,
red ink, in my mother’s
hand, numerates order
of appearance. Later
entries in blue
denote their loss

There are sections:
First day at school
First teacher’s name
Home phone number,
just in case.
Here mom mounted
the note she pinned
to my coat every morning:
name, grade, bus number.

I keep my own book:
First kiss, First sex
First anniversary
of a first marriage,
First stroke,
Undiagnosed.
My own scribbled notes,
all I remember:
air conditioning out
chainsaw next door.
The telephone cord
unravelled as I crumpled
into brown-out, then
willed myself upright,
forcing focus on
my daughter by the window
eating a Happy Meal
humming while she chewed.

 

 


Tiff Holland is the author of the novella-in-flash “Betty Superman.” Her poetry and prose have appeared in The Mississippi Review, Frigg, Karamu and many other journals.