Marmalade colored trees blazed against the
cold, whirling skies overhead.
I picked up a maple leaf that showed itself
through my boot tracks in the snow.
I remember pasting this leaf on a page,
carefully drawing my four year old self
holding your hand.
I sipped my hot cocoa and watched you
admire my picture. I smiled.
Mom let me choose my own donut,
and I picked the raspberry filled kind—your favorite.
The sticky jam coated my fingers
as I carefully split it into two.
When we got home, I offered the other half to you.
You asked, “why didn’t you finish your donut?”
“I wasn’t hungry” I smiled and thrust it
into your hands.
We walked into my fourth grade class,
as you started to wave goodbye.
I wrapped my arms around your waist,
as you looked down at me, startled,
“I would never have been caught hugging my dad at school…”
But I hugged you even tighter and told you
I didn’t care what my friends thought.
Twelve years old, I jumped with the purple jump rope you got me,
my brown hair bouncing against my cheeks.
Suddenly, a strong scent arose from shattered glass
as I looked down at your broken cologne bottle.
I held back tears as I told you it was my fault,
but you took me in your arms and told me
We all make mistakes.
I was sixteen on the eve of your birthday, and I worked
crafting cards and gifts until
the soldiers of midnight marched across the purple sky.
When my work was finished, I headed for bed,
but you awoke and asked, “Why are you up so late?”
I lied, explaining I couldn’t sleep.
I thought of the surprise you would have tomorrow
and slowly drifted into sweet dreams.
So many years later we walk down the
same old rode, dusted in snow, with marmalade trees
towering overhead. You pull something out of your
jacket pocket and hand it to me.
The familiar messy sketch of you and me,
holding hands next to a brown maple leaf,
withered with time.
“Why did you keep that ugly drawing
after all these years?” I laughed.
“Because I love you,” his blue eyes bright
against his brown jacket.
I hugged him tight, and suddenly,
I felt like I was four years old again.