Leaves of Three, Let Them Be

by Mickie Kennedy

I startle myself homesick—
not of a place but of a time,
when my daughter crawled and
chewed the corners of books
on the lower shelves in my study.
When caught she would laugh, her arms
and legs sweeping wide.

After she began to walk,
she would enter a room,
then leave to come back minutes later
without clothes: the same laugh,
this time joined by me and her mother.

When we made butter cookies,
she would hide some around the house
for later. We would find them months
later and she would smile proudly,
reaching for the cookie.

There was the time she wore
her roast beef as a mask,
the time her younger brother chased
her with cheese—which to this day
she still avoids, despite once loving it.

I have a picture of her grinning
through a thick yellow slice,
having nibbled a spot for her eyes,
nose and mouth. It seems wrong she
spurns a food because 10 years ago
her brother was the cheese monster,
but very little can change things now.
I just don’t like the taste, she says,
scraping it off her pizza.

I wanted one last summer with them
before my daughter goes to college
but instead we self-quarantine:
no amusement parks, no days
at the boardwalk. Everything is a
sameness of work and occasional errands.

My son rarely comes out of his room,
playing games online and generally
avoiding the family. My daughter
fills her summer with social media
and Facetime with friends.

I grieve the little inconveniences,
the fact my daughter didn’t get
her prom or her senior skip day.
She still doesn’t know if college
in the fall will be in person,
or online. So much is a bag
of fortune cookies without
their slips of paper.

I want to comfort her and let her know
everything is going to be ok,
even in the times ahead
when I won’t be there,
when she teaches her own children
a simple rhyme of warning.

Somewhere back in time is the girl
who is scared of all plants because
she once had poison ivy.

Mickie Kennedy is an American poet who resides in Baltimore County, Maryland with his family and two feuding cats. He enjoys British science fiction and the idea of long hikes in nature. His work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Artword Magazine, Conduit, Portland Review, Rockhurst Review, and Wisconsin Review. He earned an MFA from George Mason University. K. Nizar, a multi-disciplinary artist from Kerala’s Kozhikode, who began his career on movie-sets doing art works before becoming a visualization artist for a leading newspaper in Kerala.