Anne Larkosh Burton

The Cost

When I saw her for the first time,
She had just turned one
A quiet, self-contained toddler,
Wisps of blond hair, large brown eyes,
Her small white fist
Clinging to the nun’s long black habit.

A lifetime later
She presents me with a gift on her birthday,
Her way of acknowledging that we continue
To choose to be mother and daughter.
I tear off the corner of the wrapping,
Stop as I see the artist’s name on the label
Attached to the back of a frame.

A year ago I saw this painting in the artist’s studio,
“I want to go into this painting,” I said.
“You can,” he replied, “come back tomorrow,
Spend time with it.”
I accepted his generous offer,
Knowing I could not afford to purchase his art.

Later, seeing it on the gallery wall at the exhibition,
My heart sank as I noted the round red sticker.
I thought the experience lost forever.
Now the painting lies in my lap.

She anticipates my “you shouldn’t have” look.
“Mom,” she says “I did the math,
It comes to only twenty six cents a day.”

Anne Larkosh Burton lives and writes on Deer Isle, Maine. Her poems and excerpts from her memoir ( in progress) are included in Volumes I and II of The Eggemoggin Reach Review, an anthology published by the Deer Isle Writer’s Group of Deer Isle, Maine. She is a frequent reader on WERU-FM as well at events in and around the Blue Hill Peninsula.