I wish that my favorite cousin

had not grown from a kid whose gap-toothed grin

even Ritalin could not tame

into a teenager who toughly hides his smile in pictures.

I wish my friend did not let boys (or men) control her life

in back rooms of drunken parties,

on blanket-laid football fields,

or in rotten, darkened houses,

while plans with me become alibis.

I wish that my grandpa could still remember my name,

hold my small hand in his big, calloused one

and sing “Que sera sera” as we rock together

on the porch swing

But most of all…

I wish I was not the cautious adult I’ve learned to be,

but the child I was–

fearless and headlong into everything,

scraped and bruised

and smiling.

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