The three of us pose
on a statue of a deer,
a black and white photo
even though Catskill summers
were green stained knees
and blue berry-picking fingers,
a “Father Knows Best”
kind of scene
as unreal as the TV show

Those fleeting days
when my older sister
soothed my sunburned shoulders
but let me pull dead skin
flaking from her brown back.

And my brother,
three years my senior,
not teasing yet
or throwing darts
at my dolls like he’d do
in a few year’s time,
A constant companion,
pinkg-pong partner,
those mosquito-bitten
Catskill summers.

And me, the youngest
so innocent and smiling,
Squeezed in close,
Thrilled to be on the deer,
I grab at its muscular neck,
Peeling, painted plaster,
A perfect illusion of strength
and family ties.

~Norma Ketzis Bernstock