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.

second wind

at recess, j, who is 4, leans against the red building in his brown snow pants and puffy dark blue jacket and asks me how old I turned on my actual birthday, yesterday.
when I tell him, he says, you don’t look 26.
so how old do I look?
he squints his eyes, tilts his head, and uses one gloved hand to take measurements from afar, counting
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

I get my second wind
writing postcards to rep john faso, and the senate committee on homeland security and government affairs,
decorating the thick yellow-orange paper with designs in magenta sharpie, wondering how my piece of mail will be received, among the (hopefully)
thousands, demanding that
someone elected to political office stand up to
white supremacy (among other things), and then one of us (postcard writers) starts in about invasive plant species, maybe it was me, mentioning that hardy kiwifruit currently on trial in Massachusetts. I lean against the back of a chair with my coat on for an extra hour. suddenly there’s a lot I want to say. because why we have gone and put the hardy kiwi on trial seems like just another string of the problem of homeland security.

I ask l, who is wearing her bright pink coat and a blue hat that is falling down over her eyes (soon to be cause for a tantrum), why she is using a metal toy shovel to bang away at the wooden playground fence. she tells me she is chopping it down. we don’t need this fence, why do we need this fence?

maybe some fences are okay, maybe some fences keep us from running out into the street.