by Ariel Kaplowitz

Years from now, when I am grown, I will
think back to this night:
black kitchen table, candy wrappers strewn, rumbling
city, the four of us gripping the hands we were dealt.
We have rarely played cards before: age
difference making us strangers,
though I recognize my mother’s round cheeks on each face,
my grandfather’s eyes in my sister’s.
Tonight, we laugh so hard my
father wakes up to hush, and we roll
our eyes behind his back.
One brother leans against my shin.
My sister whispers, “Can we
play again? It’s so much - ”
and “fun” isn’t the word
for these glimmering moments, this sudden
awareness of pounding hearts,
fellow soldiers in a wobbly life.
Until now, our job has been:
argue, complain, fight. Not laugh, not lean on each other’s shins, and not love,
at least, not mention love, our implicit and hidden beast. It’s been there all along,
beating for those brimming round faces who
shaped my bones & dreams & fingernails.
I want to say, then, how this night feels like apples and honey,
but when I open my mouth,
my old line, “Not tonight, it’s too late” – slips out.
I wish I could suck those words back into my lungs,
and say yes, of course, another round, &
I love you & you alone know me truly,
but I falter in my human way
as life careens swiftly forward and
we become grownups and nights like
these are only silky memories.