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.

perfectly still

Lying perfectly still on the carpet in my room, at about three o clock in the afternoon on saturday, moving in and out of dreaming and acute awareness of the blood pumping through my body, thinking for a moment about the vietnamese walking stick bug, which is in order of insects called
Phasmatodea.

phasma is from the latin for ghost, referring to their excellent camouflage, which includes their ability to be perfectly still for hours and hours.

several of these walking stick bugs live in a glass enclosure at the education center where I work, and i stop by the welcome desk to watch their usually unmoving bodies
clinging to cut branches of multiflora rose.

the lifespan of a vietnamese walking stick bug is about five to seven months. they do not need mates to reproduce. there are only females in the glass enclosure, and they have been successfully breeding (parthenogenetically) for about
eight years.

uneven pieces

muscle bound she says of me as she prods
her way into the space between my spine and shoulder blade, and I can only
imagine my muscles as roots potted up too
tight, for too long, in a pot
too small,
and I wonder how they might unfurl into the bare
earth again.

l is using the cookie cutter molds to shape blue playdoh at playtime
and as she offers me a vanilla chocolate cake with sprinkles, the
heart shaped cake
breaks in two uneven pieces.
a broken heart i say, and take both of its parts.
what? she says, are you going to eat it?

I like to imagine ears as flowers with roots to the heart he says. I feel a warmth rise in my chest. silence. and then we begin to sing another song.