Midnight Kiss

Nothing seems so foreign to me
as the room of my four-year-old girl.
My eyes glance around the dark room
and take in my daughter’s own precious world.
Her own pink precious world.
Pink Curtains, pink pillows, pink lampshade, pink walls.
So pink. Like Barbie puked everywhere.

Dolls are sitting in a circle, grouped around
a plastic tea set on the hardwood floor.
Stuffed animals are lined up neatly in a row
on her dresser, keeping watch over the still quiet room.
The pictures taped on pink painted walls are ones
of fairytale creatures. A humanized teapot and candlestick
prance singing across one page
while a sleek, red-haired mermaid swims through another.
I recognize these characters—her favorites, I know—
but their names escape me.

I see my daughter often enough, almost every day.
I always think I know her—
the little doll she is around strangers,
but crazy monkey when just with me and her mom.
The cowgirl dress-up times, and nonsensical
one-act plays she puts on, for no one in particular.
The stories she speaks aloud, of astronauts
landing in a lava lake full of sharks when cleaning her room.

All of these things make up the girl I love—
and I think I know her.
Then I come in here at night and see her again.
I lean over her bedspread, covered in butterflies
frozen mid-flight, and brush my hand over her hair.
It’s longer than I remember.

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