my mother on the right side and my father on the left

between them my siblings and i sit crowded on their laps or on the floor

we are just children here, babies

people have a hard time telling us apart,

they squint at our small faces and our pink laughs

and the littlest one’s bald head

each of us has the same blue eyes and the same smile

we are nameless and genderless and young

we are just children here, babies

and we don’t know anything yet


it becomes easier to tell us apart in the evolution of Christmas cards throughout the years

back when we still had money and reason for christmas cards

i wear my red velvet dress and smile like i’m special at seven years old

my siblings and i hide our eyes behind home-cut bangs and black eyelashes because we are too young to know we should be wearing makeup

and we make the backdrop red like a heart

we send this on a card to our family in california

and on a card to our family in maryland

and on a card to our family in florida

and on a card to our family in god knows where

and we tuck the last copy in the spot where the door of the cabinet and the fake wood of the door of the cabinet are slowly divorcing one another

our family photo becomes a wedge in the separation


people would tell my younger siblings and i that we look like twins or triplets

i am four years older than one, two and half older than the other

and i used to get offended but i don’t anymore

when we were young we hated one another and now we are tight-knit like the scarves my mother makes us and makes us wear in the fall

when there is no one else in the world we still have each other


i have a friend whose family is not in california and maryland and florida and god knows where

her father and her father’s brother live across the road from one another

more than sharing a name they share a zipcode and a street

she is close to her cousins and bound by more than blood


i can’t imagine ever not having my siblings by my side arm in arm but if we continue our family tradition

we will be split by coastlines and state boundaries

and only speak on birthdays and holidays

and scribble greetings onto christmas cards that we skim without a second thought


the most recent photo we have is still a decade old and we look like dolls

my parents aren’t in this one

our eyes are all the same, our hair all curled perfectly

we are propped up against one another as though any one of us alone would fall

we are just children here, babies, the oldest one of us only fifteen

we don’t know anything yet

we don’t know that we need each other and we don’t understand that my mother and her sister are almost 3,000 miles apart from each other

and it’s been three years since they’ve seen each other in person

we don’t know that there is a world in the future where we scatter across the globe and don’t wake up to the sound of each other’s voices

we don’t know that sometimes the people you love are more than a car ride away

we don’t understand distance and we don’t understand separation

and we don’t understand why folding a map to put two cities next to each other won’t make it any easier to get from point A to point B


and my older sister is already gone

she lives in a city i barely know the name of and seeing her once or twice a week is not the same as seeing her sitting on the couch in the living room in the afternoon, living

just living

our bloodline betrays us

we will stretch apart from one another because that is what we have always done

from germany to california to virginia and florida and god-knows-where

connected by postal trucks carting our postcards for the holidays


and in pictures we are too young to know this

we are just children here, babies

and we don’t know how much we need each other

but i know now.

i would give anything up to stay close like this.


This poem is about: 
My family


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