You need one for every finger
you’ve got. No more. No less.
The 1st has to reel her in.
Catch her off guard. Make her
bloom in the wintertime or
persevere like those flowers
that grow in the cracks of sidewalks.
It should make her jump on her mattress
and put its metal springs to the test.
You need to cater to her, but also yourself.
You need to spark old memories and create
new ones. She should read into the songs.
Think they’re about her. She’ll look up
the words. Listen. Repeat.
She’ll hum number 6 when grocery shopping
(doodumdee as she picks JIF over Skippy,
bababum as she weighs fruit by the pound).
The wincing made by the finger plucking
of a chord progression in number 2 should
haunt her as she pulls apart awful waffles
at a diner in the middle of the night.
She should start singing the beginning
of the next song before the current one ends.
Light a candle to number 8, and she’ll watch
its flickering shadow on the ceiling, and feel
alive in the past and present, discover time travel
in the comfort of her room. There must be one
she’s bound to skip, maybe number 7; it will be
too much or not enough, she won’t care for it.
Let number 3 feel like saturated sea foam mosaics
littered throughout your neighborhood’s kitchens,
the kind they don’t make anymore, the kind they
tried to recreate but leave you feeling lackluster.
4 should remind her of that day wooden floors
replaced carpet, when her last name became
hyphenated, let her wallow in the feelings
she thought she has forgotten.
5 will go unnoticed the first time, but she’ll learn
to love it once her ears snuggle into the perfect
position under the patchwork quilt covers
in the bed of soft, web-woven vocals.
9 should be personal and one of the longer songs;
it should be about giving and taking, and make her
think of holiday lights in the garden and how they
competed against your mother’s geraniums.
10 will be a swing: it’ll push her up only to push her
back down, it will make her think of pendulums
and slow pony rides that go in circles.
Write the month/day/year. Only list titles.
Make her work to take the gloves off of the hands
that made the melodies. She will shake off the dust
in a decade or two and think of you. It’ll feel like
a mouthful of raw honey, the sand-like sugary thickness
will wrestle with her tongue and remind her of flooring
changes and lights and unexpected transitions.