Lemonade stand

Our first summer in Dallas

In mid-afternoon heat

We had a lemonade stand


Put up signs

Squeezed lemons

Made sugar syrup

Followed a recipe

The lemonade was just right.


We sat on the lawn


Wondered where all the people were.

If a lemonade stand wouldn’t work

In this heat

With our signs by busy roads

(and free ice water!)

What hope was there?


We sweated.

The little boys were bright boiled pink

Collectively we acquired 40 new mosquito bites

Most of them on sweet Lenora


Finally two women from down the street

Walked over with their little dog

They bought lemonade with quarters

They stayed to chat

They let the little boys feed sticks to their dog.


They were so nice

We were able to write the whole thing off

As a success.

Featured post

Donut shop

The lady who runs the donut store

Doesn’t speak a lot of English

But she does say I love you

To Oliver

Who also doesn’t speak too much English

But communicates to her

Through pointing and head shaking

That he wants the one with round

Not oblong



Her elderly parents

Are sitting at one of two tables

Bent over coffee in Styrofoam cups

Sharing a plain cake donut

Looking on benevolently

As Oliver takes his pleasure

Eating only the chocolate frosting

And round sprinkles


There is a honeybee in the donut case

One lady who walks in says

A honeybee! It will make all the donuts sweeter

The other lady, in orthopedic shoes

Drawn-on gray eyebrows and a thick accent

Takes a more sinister view

Insisting it’s a fly


When the other customers leave

The lady

Who has placed an extra chocolate donut

Into our pastry bag

Corners it

On the front glass

Squishing it into a napkin

With that crackling noise

That insects make

Dreaming of water

My first summer here

I dreamed of the ocean

Of running along foothill paths

Parched golden brown

From the summer sun

Dark oak groves held in the folds

The blue plate of the sea

Stretching out before me

White wave crests like cracks

The cool salty breeze in my face


Now when I dream

It is of still water

Murky and green-brown

Instead of sea foam

There are pockets

Of sun bleached cans and bottles

Bobbing in the reeds


Forced in by the heat

I swim with determination

Not to have to place my feet

Into the smooth, sinking ooze below

I swim

Between fishermen in their boats

Who look at me

Like I am a strange

And unwelcome animal


I am looking for beauty

In stretches of shoreline

Flashes of red in the trees

The curve of an egret’s neck

All the while

Trying not to think

Of the cold-eyed snapping turtle

Lying somewhere beneath me

Like a jagged stone


Driving downtown on the weekend

To the sand-colored library

With its furrowed brows

We pass the homeless people

Slumped against buildings in the heat

Bare feet resting on church steps

Lined up

In empty, cactus lined parking lots

To tents

That I hope are handing out water


Lenora asks

Why they are all black


They used to be all white

Where we used to live

And I realize this explanation

Won’t be a quick one


Because it starts hundreds of years ago

Maybe longer

Involves a map

Inked with melanin

Ships crossing

United states

The South

And of course


And War


My mind slips around these


To when I was in school

With black kids

Who were bused in

From the neighboring city

Where there were no neighborhood schools

For them to attend

So the kids there were parceled out


Bused in small groups

To our neighborhood schools


We were taught to be proud

Part of a grand democratic experiment

Sitting in the multi-purpose room

We watched dancers in brightly patterned clothes

And headscarves

Drumming and jumping to African music

We studied civil rights

As a finished chapter of history

Where bad and backwards people

Were enlightened or conquered

We sang the world a song

And furnished it with love


I never wondered, then

What it was like

To be the only black kid

In fourth grade



I wonder if it is right, now

To teach that the glistening, bird-filled

Colorblind world

Is near at hand


Or is it more true

To make a number line

With the hundreds of years

Start tallying up the damage

Minus the progress

And hold it up to measure

The line of homeless people

In the cactus-lined lot

The toad

The boys found a toad in the watering can

He blinked out at us from its dark shelter

His throat swelling in and out

With a look that said

Well, here we are


We put him in a bucket

With grass clippings, leaves

A plastic bowl of water

And watched him jump

And jump

For a top that was

Just out of reach


I held him

His skin clammy and rough

Warty as any storybook toad

But delicate and light

A creature improbable


Feeling his miniature bones under thin skin

It seemed the slightest pressure

A sneeze or a stumble

Would send him across that

Narrowest of lines

Between life and death


When the kids asked to let him go

Relieved and proud

We tipped the bucket

And watched him hop

Guardedly around the yard


He wedged himself

At last

In a crack in the concrete

Ronan, worried about him,

Covered the crack with grass

For shade


Ronan cried for a long time

He was worried that the toad would die

We did our best to reassure him

That a toad living in Dallas

Knows how to get around

To the cool wet places


But he was unconsoled

He knew

We had messed with the toad

Taken its winding lifeline in our hands

And, however unwitting

Might have tangled it


The mechanic’s

Where I left my car

Was across from a school

Enclosed by a chain link fence


By drifts of garbage


An old Hispanic lady walked

Hunched with the weight

Of two laden plastic grocery bags

Undaunted by the August heat


A grizzled man at the bus stop

Arranging his plastic bottles

Of clear and amber liquids

Stopped talking to himself

To nod hello


I walked three blocks to

A coffee shop

Where handmade cards

Announced what notes

One should expect

In the daily brew

Butterscotch whiskey apple apricot

An enchanted melody


I tasted bitter

While across the street

A yoga instructor

Yelled commands

At her toned subjects

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑