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Caroline Maun


Portrait of a Boy by Boleslaw Barbacki


Don’t tell me it’s wrong to want security
for these two towheaded, anxious boys
one steepling his hands with a knit of worry
on his brow, the other, pulling willow leaves
from a bough and squinting against the sun.

We are playing at being a family
with this man, and his face is also not smiling—
everyone looks a little stunned
to be in this configuration, his arm around
my waist, my left knee bent

with a foot wrapping around my calf,
arm holding one boy around the shoulder,
lassoing him for this Polaroid,
and the other boy between us with my new
husband’s fingers just brushing his shoulder.

If nothing else, let’s pretend we have braided
into a family until it is no longer false,
and the return of green next year
will bring the last child as certain as cement.


About the writer:
Caroline Maun is an associate professor and Chair of English at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing and American literature. Her volumes of poetry include The Sleeping (Marick Press, 2006), What Remains (Main Street Rag, 2013), and three chapbooks, Cures and Poisons and Greatest Hits, published by Pudding House Press, and Accident, published by Alice Greene & Co. She has also been published in Asheville Poetry Review, The Bear River Review, Bitterzoet Magazine, Brushfire, The Cape Rock, The Courtship of Winds, Crack the Spine, Delmarva Review, El Portal, Euphony, Evening Street Review, and Failbetter.

Image: Portrait of a Boy by Bolesław Barback (1891-1941). Oil on canvas. 22 x 18.1 inches. By 1941. Public domain.

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