Sunburned from graduation. Right arm lobster-red, left arm protected by a sleeping baby. My chest in the deep v of a new halter dress. Cheeks and nose and forehead. I haven’t been burnt like this in years. Seven years today, when the scalloped neck of my wedding gown was burnt into my breast.
Not a word about my mother missing my shower. For years she fought tooth and nail to claim the role of parent and now not even a façade. She has no problem with my stepmother taking over the public role. Maybe she gave up the fight. Maybe the fight was never over us.
Sunday idyllic looking out on the Canal at Newell Stadium. Boats going by and the field filled with kids in maroon and white, my half-sister among them. James there on the field watching his students and handing Samantha her diploma. She wore the pink lei, put on her by my nephew as I sat in the stands with my grandmother BJ and the rest of the kids.
Tuberose flowers falling off of the other, too much for a girl trying to fit in. The woman behind us remembers the smell of the airport in Honolulu. My grandmother says tub-e-rose where I pronounce it tube-rose. I will change my way. Fallen flowers in the buttonholes of my cardigan. Caleb crying on my shoulder from the noise of the band but sung quickly to sleep. Lovesick ballads again.
Bring the baby back to my sister. Look down- no wedding ring on my stepmother’s finger. Speeches about childhood and movies. I hope you dance. Names and names and names, proud parents with noisemakers and cowbells. Fighting our way onto the field to find Samantha and James. BJ hobbling down eventually, by then me collapsed in a city councilor’s chair. Pictures and congratulations.
At home tired from the heat and sun, skin aching against the sheets. Aloe sinking in slowly. Cool breeze from the water making me shiver. Asleep by the third inning.