We sit on the kitchen floor, she facing me, knees pressed against my belly, forehead pressed against mine, fingering the links of the chain.
She pulls her head back to see the length, metal pieces grabbing hold one after again, these ovals laced around my neck like mother teachings.
One after another after another, on and on
She takes the necklace gently over my head and through my hair.
“Don’t even look,” she says.
On the floor she forms a heart,
an “M” for Mama,
the first letters of each family name.
It’s a square, she says smoothing the shape with the tips of her fingers,
a christmas tree — jingle, jingle.
She runs upstairs with the chain and plays peek-a-boo and school with Lambie and monkey Charles.
“Don’t look, Charles,” she says.
“What shape is it now?”
“Does it look like a picture frame?”
“Yes, Charles, it does look like a picture frame.”
She wraps Lambie ’round and ’round the necklace until I can’t see it. Runs pink ribbon through the links.
Has me cover my eyes before the next big reveal.
I am thinking about the little girl who sang “Pretty pretty pretty” around my knees at school last week, and when I looked down she was pointing to me and my necklace that matches my sister’s,
the neck of my shirt.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“A cross,” I told her.
“It’s broken,” she said.
And I wanted to tell her it meant broken and whole at once.
But I didn’t. There were too many voices, and I
couldn’t find mine right then.
Now I am watching Lala,
and she is so happy with this jingling metal in her hand
that lay close to her mama’s heart,
and she the teacher,
and her round face peeks through the