Alongside

Lisa Akus

For my daughter Amara and her best friend Kyrah

To school she wears long sleeves
And slips on her knit gloves to avoid
The unwanted feel of paper.
She crawls off her bed
Sleeping by the air vent
Beneath a tent made
Of her comforter, stripped down
To undergarments
Just enough to keep
The feel of a constant
Cool on her exposed skin.
Goes into immediate
Retreat at the mention of a hug,
Climbing her voice
Against the undesired touch.
Stretches her cuffs
Beyond the length of fingertip
To practice formation
With her ice skating partner.
But she has a friend
On a different end
Of a brilliant spectrum,
Equally radiant with
Both smiles and affirmations,
Her own determination.
So today someone stomps
Another foot
Asserting the hardwood
Echos in my direction.
Still there’s only one name
She has ever
Intentionally recalled. With the way
My memory purposely holds on,
The way with her forgetful
About anything else mind,
She’s held on
Almost 5 years now,
To the only one I’ve ever seen,
With whom she walks alongside,
Nothing getting in between
Them and with what
Their bare hands hold
Together.