Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Moments mapped on skin

Wrinkled, sun-kissed, thin

Years of hopes and dreams

Bursting at the seams

Wisdom in her eyes

Wistful tired sighs

As I reminisce

How can I say this

Silent, I sit here

Choking back a tear

So much is unsaid

Swirling in my head

Looking at her face

My heart trapped in place

Her arms were my nest

When I was distressed

She was always there

Strong and full of care

Is this our last hug

Quiet, safe, and snug

Not ready to grieve

I don’t want to leave

Maybe if I hide

Very deep inside

Time will stop and wait

Before it’s too late


All Grown Up… By Toni L.A. Cross


Foggy nose-print, cold wet window

Water streaming on the pane

Mommy, mommy when will I be

When will I be all grown up?


Thunder booming, lightning flashes

Years streaming down the drain

Mommy, mommy when will I be

When will I be all grown up?


High heels clopping, puddles splashing

Runny makeup leaves a stain

Mommy, mommy when will I be

When will I be all grown up?


Under blankets, mindless shivers

Waiting for the storm to wane

Mommy, mommy when will I be

When will I be all grown up?


Long day over, still apartment

Living in adult mundane

Mommy, mommy when will I be

When will I be all grown up?

what babies know… by Toni L.A. Cross


whisper to me of the things I knew

before i crossed the great wide blue

coo the sound of heaven’s gates

and the mystery of our fates

tell me of the wordless thing

why God cries and angels sing

Me n’ Selina: A short story inspired by the song, “My Immortal”

This is the first story that I have ever written, based solely on my impression of a song. Call it fan-fiction… a tribute… whatever you want. I hope you enjoy it!


Sometimes I feel as if I am half of a person walking about in the shadow of what was not meant to be.

You see, I was born a twin. I was the eldest, by 15 minutes.

While my first gasping cries were still filling the hospital room where I was born, all the doctors and nurses were gathered about my mother, trying to coax my sister into life.

She was born small, blue, and silent. I was healthy, kicking and screaming all by myself, forgotten in a mess of birthing fluid.

Soon enough, someone remembered me and I was ushered off to a sterile little incubator of my own.

My mother said the nurses told her I was constantly groping about with my squinty eyes and red face, as if I had lost something. The only time I calmed down was when I was reunited with my womb mate. My mother wears a locket against her heart, even today. Our first official baby picture. Tiny and perfect, nestled together, my infant arm protectively around my sister. That was the picture that foretold the first five years of our lives.

 Selina and I were inseparable. Her lungs didn’t allow for the normal tumbling and playing that most children enjoyed, so I always set my pace by her.

When she got sick, which was often, I brought the outside into her room. She breathed sunshine, not air. I fed her with flowers and fireflies caught in mason jars. I snuck in the house with frogs in my pockets, just to hear the squeal of delight I knew would come.

The year we turned five, we spent our birthday in the hospital. We didn’t have a real cake… To be honest, I think everyone forgot.

I remember finding a corner of cold linoleum in the darkest corner of her hospital room. All the relatives and doctors and nurses were bustling about and whispering scary things.

I was wearing my new pink birthday dress, but Selina’s matching one was back home, laid out on the dresser.

She had pneumonia and the nurses said that nothing was working. I fell asleep and when I woke up, there were no adults around. I pattered into the bathroom to get a drink.

When I came back, Selina’s eyes were open. She tried to say something, but she couldn’t. She lifted her hand, the one that didn’t have an IV in, and motioned to a spot on the bed. I crawled under the sheets with her. Everything smelled cold and sharp. I drifted back into my dreams with her head in the little hollow beneath my chin.

Somehow, when I woke again, I was home in my own bed. The following days were a blur of tears and black and gray, casseroles and strong-smelling flowers.

Selina did finally get to wear her birthday dress. I’ll never forget how she looked.

Her hair was so blonde and her face was so white. I wanted to pinch her, to make her open her eyes. The pink and lace looked so wrong. I was sure she was sleeping in that coffin.

 How could she be gone forever? How could she stop breathing without me dying too? She couldn’t go without me…



bullied… by Toni L.A. Cross

a little girl
with bouncy brown curls
who can't be more than six
is backed up against the school's coat rack
protesting for all she is worth
a little boy with big brown eyes
who can't be much older
is begging in a whiny voice 
and struggling with all his scrawny might
a bully has a hold
on the two of them
"kiss your little girlfriend"
he taunts
trying to push them together
"she's not my girlfriend" 
mixes with
"no! boys are gross!"
and makes an odd dissident melody 
a reedy girl with a long braid 
melts out of the shadows 
in a moment of first-grade valor 
"if you don't let 'em go, I'll call a teacher" 
and suddenly everything stops the bully skulks away 
and the little boy hides
and the girls go back to the playground
and silence seals
what no one dares to say