Six became an ugly word
that day in the customs line,
when the lady, without looking up
asked how many we were.
We gazed at dad as he paused,
red eyes leaking at the seams.
six, he replied,
the word straining in his throat.
It felt a lie,
hovering around our faces,
because we still felt you in our hearts.
Even now, when they ask me how many we are, and I feel myself skipping over where your name should be, I whisper it to myself -
Some spaces aren't meant to be filled.