This poem appears in the Spring 2023 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe to the journal, click here.

In memory of my stepmother

You were a secretary where my dad
Was working. At his office, when we met,
I didn’t know your secret love—not yet.
My mother’s strength concealed her nights were sad.

You talked to me, the only grownup there
Who did, and smiled as if I were the son
You wished was yours. Your touch and sense of fun
Were warm as colored lights with Christmas near.

You led me to a window to exclaim,
“The snow is magic, isn’t it!” On Main,
The feathered tarmac roosted with a brood
Of shoppers hatching into white, renewed.

I wish I could get back that moment now,
With all my childish trust, no matter how
We hated in the end what we became.
Our hearts were light as snowflakes, free of blame.