here i am

five years old

at the beach in a little ruffled bikini

flat-chested

crooked-teethed

smiling—

watch me make a sand angel, mama

careful, my darling,

don't swim too far

i just can't stand to lose you

ten years old

sitting on my bed in fishnets

black lipstick

stuffed bra

glaring—

this is how the teenagers dress, mama

careful, my darling

take off that lipstick

i just can't stand to lose you

twelve years old

on the way to middle school

self-conscious

gawky in big blue glasses

frowning—

please, mama, you're embarrassing me

careful, my darling

you're too young for frown lines

i just can't stand too lose you

thirteen years old

on the floor of my bedroom pretending to be dead

i pressed a gun to my head

on thanksgiving

i forgot how to smile—

mother, you don't understand my pain

careful, my darling

don't worry so much

i just can't stand to lose you

fifteen years old

in front of my computer in too many chunky bracelets

angry

wanting to understand the world

smiling again—

watch me make a snow angel, mama