teeth like skin

ly loses her top front tooth in the somewhat sacred five minutes when everyone is actually quiet and journaling in their sit spots scattered along the trail after lunch and she runs to me from the shelter of sticks that she’d claimed since monday,
smiling with her hand outstretched
and there is a little bit of blood where she had been wiggling and wiggling. i tell her yes you can bring it inside and get cleaned up.

when we’re all walking out of the woods back to the classroom, h, who is also seven years old, looks like she is thinking very hard and tells me she is jealous of ly losing her tooth.
i tell her that i didn’t lose most of my teeth until 5th grade, but i’m not sure it’s a comfort in the moment
and i am left to wonder about the cravings of growing, even if it means
the coming apart of us,
shedding teeth like
skin,
a process of molting i’d forgotten i’d done.

smashing a crowd of them

in the dream the girl is five years old, and it is clear that i had abandoned her. she looks up at me with her blue green eyes as if she’s asking the hardest question in the world, and i feel the pressure of whatever it was i had done weighing down on my chest.

kneeling in the wet ground i plant the
sunflowers
with c,
the ones i had started on my windowsill in june, the ones now with root bound bottoms all interlaced and overgrown, craning their still strong stems upward to see the sun and i say
sorry
that it took me this long to find bare earth to plant them. and the drizzling rain christens their new home.

but they’re not from around here, m, who is 6, says
about the gypsy moths, when i stop him from smashing a crowd of them that we find on the giant oak tree. well, are you from around here? i ask him, to which he nods emphatically, not knowing the connection. it’s just a little more complicated than that. i say, and we catch up with the group walking into the woods.