new york baby

Jacqueline Woodson

When my mother returns,
I will no longer be her baby girl.
I am sitting on my grandmother ’s lap
when she tells me this,
already so tall my legs dangle far down, the tips
of my toes touching the porch mat. My head
rests on her shoulder now where once,
it came only to her collarbone. She smells the way
she always does, of Pine-Sol and cotton,
Dixie Peach hair grease and something
warm and powdery.

I want to know whose baby girl I’ll be
when my mother ’s new baby comes, born where
the sidewalks sparkle and me just a regular girl.

I didn’t know how much I loved
being everyone’s baby girl
until now when my life as baby girl
is nearly over.

Last updated November 25, 2022