A Poem (And A Photograph)

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NICOLAS

My five-year-old brother hands me my mail,
Happy Birthday, he says while smiling
content to be eating pretzels and peanut butter
before dinner. I flip through the stack
of unopened bank statements.
Nicolas has decided that uncooked pasta
is worth trying. He offers me some.
No, thank you. I’m not hungry, I say.
He reaches for the sugar bowl, the teapot,
the clock: they are companions, belong together.

He thinks of home. Mama? Papa? he asks.
I explain they are near, at The Mermaid Inn.
I distract him by changing a light bulb.
We agree the kitchen is too bright.

And, later, when asked by our father
the child says, yes, in fact he would
like to thank god for something:

cupcakes.

Sherisse Alvarez