I learned to diagnose,

to salve suffering,

or at least attempt it.

I tried to console

when medicine could not

heal, and when it could, too.

Each day added

another petiole,

a shoot or two,

sometimes even a leaf.

I grew slowly,

case by case.

The years elided

one into the next

and life passed all but unwitnessed

until a glimpse of cast-off

photographs at the back

of a forgotten drawer

awakened me with a jolt.

How did my spouse live when I was

still waiting for life to begin?

Now on the cusp of adulthood,

my daughter’s eyes from well over

a decade ago catch mine. Playful, carefree—

an intimate moment with passing friends.

She was small.

I still feel young,

but the thinning leaves of my own canopy

herald the coming autumn.

How can the journey be so far spent?