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

Sweated

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.

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May

The sun and the temperature

rising steeply

in step

 

It’s warming up

occurs to me

through my own pounding steps

but that’s inaccurate

 

It’s hotting up

Accurate,

but it stumbles somewhere

between mind and mouth

and humid air

 

So then

It’s hottin’ up, y’all

Braids

The lady who cut my hair

whose name sounded like water falling

had black and white braids

and was gentle with her hands

and the comb in it

 

an accent I couldn’t place

she asked me where I part my hair

I said I don’t

it’s just always back in a braid

She laughed

but gently

I said my daughter wishes I were more fancy

every day she has me do her hair in two braids

tighter, she always says, tighter

but on the weekend she likes it free, not even brushed

 

So she plaited my hair in two French braids

inside-out ones

fancy

I haven’t had those

since high school cross-country

and as I drove away

whole clumps of years sheared away

and I was thinking about my daughter

Sister

Sitting there on the floor

with her dolls

she cannot see us

in the room that we share

keeping her company

dressing and undressing them

in their skirts purple and gold,

dresses with apricot ruffles

We marvel at

and work around

their giant cone-breasts

narrow hips and voluminous hair

their feet arched high

so they will never stand with their feet

firmly on the ground

 

Still, we grew up

without giant cone breasts

narrow waists or voluminous hair

(though we did our best with curlers)

we wore normal shoes

swapped drab, mud-colored clothes

for those jewel-toned ones

settled for hair that was, at best, wavy

and turning grey

 

in certain light

she may see

it isn’t loneliness

that surrounds her in that room

but a slipup in time

a stitch dropped

that will be cinched

worked around

made whole

The hole

There is a hole in the middle of the city

Does this sound crazy?

So deep you can’t see the bottom

the sides slick with green algae

sheer

 

so that any ducks that have toppled over

or those little spring turtles

with silver-dollar shells

unable to escape the current

falling down

none of them would have been able

to find their way back up

out of the rushing dark

 

Now here’s the thing

Stay with me now

This hole swallows time also

so that every stone thrown into it

could be

say

a loose tooth that

when wiggled out

will permanently change the architecture

of your elvin face

 

Every stick

that

turtle-like

succumbs to the current

and is pulled forever down

is a moment at school

some small indignity

withheld

You who were once

part of my body

 

I’m telling you, nothing is safe from it

Hair that was pale and light

as cottonwood fluff

will grow coarse and dark

you will accustom yourself

with disappointment

and disappointing

 

And now you think this is a warning

You want to back away, slowly

and while I’m saying that this hole

is dangerous

ruthless

I am also saying

that the water sparkles like knives in the sun

and the rushing of water

is louder

than the rushing of traffic

and it is the best place

to throw stones

The best part

The best part is not

the giant blue fettucini noodles

frothing suds

dancing the hula across the windshield

 

or the giant spinning bristle-brushes

thwacking against the car

like deranged hedgehogs

 

or even the invisible power of the driers

their force shaking the car

lifting the bleariness like a curtain

this ancient and massive cataract

from the windshield

revealing a world crisp and bright and sunny

 

No

The best part

is the thunk of the wheels onto the conveyor

the shifting into neutral

the letting go of the wheel

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