Like the squared-off lines chalked
on a hot sidewalk, any blistery afternoon
when you are eight and school
is out for the summer,
your mother just inside, or off
in some faraway place full of people
you hope she does not like better,
working in either case, her limp hair
clinging to her sweaty brow
in curly waves.
Like the jolt of concrete in your ankles,
the dream of ice cream bouncing in your head
along with the quarters squirreled away
in your pocket, the chocolate cream smooth
on your tongue, pushing away more
than the hole in your belly.
On the radio, around the television each night,
the uncontrollable filters into the living room,
layering the rag rugs and shag carpets
with guns, bombs, the threat of war,
flood, feast, famine, the round stomachs
of children with eyes like yours
but vacant and cold.
The only thing new is your own hand
touching the hot stove, drawing back
in hurt wonder, glancing to the knowing eyes
of the one whose arms you run to,
she who has skipped her own chalked patterns,
licked vanilla as it dribbled down
its sugary cone.
April 27, 2013