The Sonnet We’re Left With

by Kai Holmwood

Look at the pictures of us as kids
“innocent,” they called us,
as they told us to smile
and promised the world would be ours

Look at the bared teeth in those pictures
as if we were already feral
as if somehow, even then,
we knew

Look at the promises sprawling before us:
summers promising record heat
winters promising inadequate rain
someone promising to profit off it all

They told us to smile, but we—
we were learning to bare our teeth

Kai Holmwood has an M.A. in Writing from the University of Canterbury in Aotearoa New Zealand and was awarded the H. W. Hill Prize at UC Berkeley. She lives in rural Portugal with her Brazilian husband and two giant mastiffs they accidentally adopted.