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I used to mark the months with crayons,

coloring my days with giant X’s filling square boxes

I’d keep each calendar stacked and stored safely away

amid brochures and playbills and recital programs

I used to start counting the year in September

only a quarter Jewish from a grandfather I never met

But instinctively felt that the real New Year’s Eve

was Labor Day, as the last remnants of summer

were whisked away with the smoke from our grill

I used to number my days within a safe paradox

I disliked summer as I kept mostly to myself and dreaded

the enforced exercise/athletic regimen from my mother

So as the social burdens of attending school with other

children were off my shoulders, the positive aspects of

learning and teacher adoring were also out of my grasp

Thankfully I had my books and a few extra hours to read

when I wasn’t floundering on a tennis court or crawling the 100 yd dash

I used to calculate the moments while sitting on the floor of my bedroom

risking my mother’s ire with my anti-chore rebellion’s weekly sit-in

My expert daydreaming skills, both the bane and buttress of my world,

allowed me infinite patience to match my mom’s skill at waiting me out

I used to reckon that seconds were faster than eyeblinks

when I snuck out of bed with my book in the late watches of the night

and devoured chapters at a time until I heard the sound of the garage door

or the flash from my father’s high beams as he pulled into the driveway

I knew I was sunk, even as I extinguished the light and hid in the shadows

What surprised me was not how often he caught me red handed but rather

how often he let me hide there even after he climbed the steps to the kitchen

And I used to treasure those moments suspended in time’s plasma

when I was bold enough to walk right into the kitchen after him and

sit down for a midnight chat before the spell was broken

and I was a little girl again who had to get up in the morning for school.

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