When I bought it, the brown album big as you, (but not quite so heavy), We hadn’t yet cut your spongy curls, had only offered our perpetual adoration.
I slipped pictures into the sleeves:
meeting you, my white skin glaring in the dim nursery light,
courtyard trikes—faded and dinged— your brother riding them,
diapers hung to dry, even in the kitchen,
savannah lining the road to Shashamene,
Mesiret giving you two fingers to hold onto in a living room filled with traditional weavings, telling us about your first mom.
Tonight you pick my purple chair, a premier location for paging through A Charlie Brown Christmasblinking when you press buttons and a carol spills from two tiny book-speakers.
When the herald angels finish, you pick up the long-closed album.
Seraphim stop breathing. I can’t muster stop (there are no Cherubim, flaming swords turning every way)
The captions, only half finished, slide out. My own hand against me:
Brother play time!
Mesiret happy to see you!
The heft of that album, pages, captions, all the brown certainty of a giant book, your capitalized initials embossed on the cover—
It’s too big for you, honey. It’s too big.
No it’s not, Momma. You smile. I can carry it myself, Momma. See?
You open it on your lap (my chair taking some of its weight), put accidental pressure on Charlie Brown release again tinny praises of the newborn king.
Alina Borger writes and teaches in Iowa City, IA. Her work has recently appeared in Stirring, The Mom Egg Review, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and Rogue Agent, among others. “Advent You” is also featured in her chapbook, Tuesday’s Children, from Hermeneutic Chaos Press. Visit www.alinaborger.com or @AliBG.