Pas de Deux
The headline in the Commercial Appeal read:
Adoption Shortage — Fewer White Babies Up for Adoption.
She came across the clipping thumbing
through old photo albums with her son.
Long before Misty Copeland,
there was Alvin Ailey.
Since he could remember, he knew his mother
was adopted. Now at 12, eh witnessed for the first time
the details of her childhood: awkward class photos, the stages of bad hair,
of oversized teeth. Details that told the backstory of his own features.
He snapped photos of the photos with her phone; texted cousins, friends,
his sister — sending some strange message to the universe that it had all
It had been a long time since she breathed so simply.
Her son by her side. Tears filled her eyes and it felt good.
And she held them in. Mothers don’t get carried
away in the moment.
Pulling off a clean, single pirouette
is more difficult than turning a triple pirouette.
Wading through the colored stack of neatly organized albums, he pointed
to this picture and that shot — fixated on physical similarities:
heavy brows. Pointy noses. Gray blue eyes.
She watched him until the fear came over her that this time with her son
She counted the freckles on his face to keep a handle.
She trained her fingers to feel
the textured edge of the heavy laminated page. She told him she had never
that looked like her, until him. Until the choreography
of those good 2 to 3 minutes, had quieted down. Until something inside
like a tightly held fist.
She got up from the floor
and placed the albums back in the steamer trunk.
She walked through the foyer, through the halls and into the bedroom of
the house she slept in when she herself was 12.
She was herself in the mirror. Drew her shoulders down, turned out her
feet, lifted up her arches. Stood up taller. Not seeing the lines of age, the
circles of insomnia.
She left the house for lunch with her father and son.
They looked at her and wondered.