on the skinny path

take a bite on the sun side c says about the apples we are
picking and then all we hear is
crunching, warm juice crisp bite,
and i have to shield my eyes from the bright
to look at everyone

when i get an immediate burst of grape smell
like juice or sweet
wine
while walking along the forest edge
and looking closer i see the clusters of small fruits fermenting

virginia creeper flushed
beet red and i’m tiptoeing around the
poison ivy leaves peaking out pockets of
yellow,
on the skinny path to the
swimming hole
for the second time in one day

half unfurled

when the fourth grade girls all swarm in to hug me goodbye just as their teachers are shepherding them onto the bus home after lunch and
one of the girls who had been holding my hand the entire walk from the dining hall says she will never let go, but then she does, and they wave from the bus steps and wave from their bus seats and the engines start and we wave back from the driveway
until the bus pulls out and the wheels turn on the gravel and round a corner, and the trees with their pale green leaves wash them out of sight.

listening to nd practice the ukulele from his room
and kw sneeze from her
nook under the stairs
and hs out by the fire pit putting out the
last of the embers after his grilled steak dinner,
and the rest of them upstairs muffled laughing and moving
chairs, while i sit
still
on the couch near the front door, writing these words.

the cloudy chill that feels like spring is
momentarily
suspended in the half unfurled fiddleheads, and the unopened dandelions
and the one apple tree near the library with blossoms still clasped, hesitating to extend its petals to the world.