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You never came even though you had a promise date. I imagined your face a tiny smooth circle of pinkish flesh. You slipped from us, disappeared in ash, when they tossed you on the dewy grass where the roses grow. I left you there for 11 years.

But the guilt of you made me restless to open wide the windows and to make new memories out of what could have been. But you flew out on the waves of your siblings’ laughter and on their quickening heights and goals and wrestling. Now I no longer see you, even in my dreams.

Still, you have not left us, not really. You’re a tree that grows in the shadow of our movements, a sapling in a high forest that we hike. You’re still silent and faceless, but we let the rain grow your roots. The mourning dove rests in other branches now, and when I see her there, I know that you were made for this.

Tiffani Burnett-Velez

Tiffani has been a freelance writer since 1996. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Toe Good Poetry, Nicean Magazine, and St. Anthony Messenger. Her nonfiction essays and narrative journalism have been published in Pennsylvania Magazine, Yahoo! News, Country Discoveries, The Times-News, and many other magazines and newspapers across the US. She is the author of three novels, Budapest (featured at the NY Book Festival), A Berlin Story (a #1 Kindle Free Book), and All This Time (featured in The Big Thrill magazine). She holds a BA in Cognitive Science and has studied English and American Literature at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently completing her MFA in Writing at Lindenwood University.

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