She’s sixteen, and looks like a full-grown woman,
teen-aged status hinted at by the acne.
I remember infancy’s gold, unblemished
skin. I remember

every time I scolded her, slapped her, wished her
someone whom she wasn’t, and let her know it.
Every mother knows she betrays her daughter.
Does she? Maybe.

She was not the builder of model airplanes.
She was not the runner I never could be.
She was not the pillager of my bookshelves,
Rimbaud, or Brontë.

She was not the heroine of a novel.
She was only eight, with a perfect body
caught above the swimming pool, midair, leaping
into blue water

(snapshot: 1982, Vence; she joined me
Air France Unaccompanied Minor). She’s the
basic human integer, brown-skinned, golden,
wingless, but flying.

She has breasts and buttocks to keep her earth-bound
now. She rereads children’s books in her loft bed:
Little Women. Anne of Green Gables. Robin
Hood, and Black Beauty