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ContritionTo Kelley White's previous piece     I hope it will be quiet tonightTo Kelley White's next piece
Michael, three
The girl on the t-shirt looks about twelve,
full laughing face, her barrel chest not quite a woman's,
ribbons, literal ribbons, in her hair. The mall printed photo
has gone a bit crinkly at the lines where it folds over
the old woman's bosom and belly.  I have already diagnosed
a left otitis and written my prescription for 
the small-for-age toddler.  Now I have 
to ask.  It is her daughter, this child's mother,
dead a year, dead at twenty-seven,
strangled by her boyfriend, this child's father, 
leaving behind a teenager and a two-year old.

When the woman walks to the adult waiting area
I can read the script on the back  
I will always shed tears
for the days you're not here