When she was so small

When I was thinner

When I didn’t know

When I was younger

When she and I were both so new at things

When my parents were married for thirty-two years

When they could stand together for a picture with their grandchild

When they could

When my love and I lived in northern California

When I wasn’t even thirty-five yet

When I wasn’t afraid to fly to New York

When I wasn’t afraid to fly

When I wasn’t afraid

When I wasn’t

When life seemed more difficult

When it was

When it wasn’t

When my hair was short, pixie-like

When my father disapproved and said I didn’t look like his little girl anymore

When he said nothing but his eyes said as much

When he peered over his glasses and asked when we were moving back home

When he lit cigarettes in silence

When he still smoked

When the sound of striking match heads and the faint odor of burning sulfur comforted me

When he still drank whiskey neat

When I was still his little girl

When she was still my little girl

When she was still his wife

When I was younger

When she was younger

When they were younger

When the maple tree that they kissed beneath on their first date in 1963 was still living

When the branches hung over the sidewalk as green Gothic arches

When it still stood on 216th Street

When it hadn’t died

When it hadn’t been taken down





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