Carrie knew only the desire
of her tongue tasting a perched
buttercup or popping a bubblegum
tune. On lemonade days,
she wore quilted skirts
with ribbons that danced around
lush knees. She sipped plain
coke syrup and chewed greens
from maple trees, lifting leaves
like fingers hushing whispers.
Her and my flat feet pedaled
bicycles to school. My cheeks
burned against morning dew
or torrid heat, but breezes smoothed
their hands on Carrie’s rosy face.
They were her mothers.
Tossing gazettes across crisp lawns,
boys eyed her riding without
holding the handlebars. Her ash hair
sashayed like leaves splashed
by the wind. Bending down to pet
a neighbor’s dog, she could stare
straight at the sun. She should
be careful, they thought,
her mind flutters like a canary,
adapting rolling melodies and
human thrills. She glued buttons—
purple and yellow—on the gears
and put bunnies in her basket.
The sun never set on her.
Catching dragonflies down the creek,
she’d skip Sunday service, rippling
squalid water with pebbles.
And she always smiled.
Now, our yard still has her
dried daisies. Through the trees,
you can hear merriment:
plump legs rubbing seesaws
and tee balls bouncing on blacktops.
I wondered if she remembered
tying hair with cattails or the rushes
that hung low and swelled
ankles or the breeze that chilled
all bones but hers.
Seven years gone, her face
shines like a burnished mirror.