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|  SCHOOLYARD

 
  Jake beats on Maya because
she's reading with mom. It bugs him
that he can't. Calls her names,
yells at her, comes raging into the room
threatening that he's going to kill her,
stab her with a knife.
This is all very familiar.

Ok Jake, what happened at school today? Nothing.
What happened? I don't want to go to school.
I want to get sick and die!
Typical Jake responses
to a deep sadness buried
in the honeycomb of his heart.
And we brace ourselves, living in the shadow
of falcons, waiting for them
to swoop in
and slice away pieces.

What happened? He tells us
about coming in late from recess,
all the other kids
already working on their schoolwork.
About being at the far end
of the field, of the playground,
searching for insects with his friends,
excited that they had found
a praying mantis the day before.

Then the bell rings and everyone runs
and he can't keep up
and his friends get smaller
and no one waits
and he tries
to run fast
falling further
and further behind.
Alone. Crying.
A rag doll
tumbles through his chest, an awareness
crushes him
like the body of a praying mantis
under a friend's shoe.


from The Wind is a Tall Man Striding
watershedBooks
2000
Copyright © Jim Slominski