I am ten years old.
It is spring.
The grass has begun its transformation
from brown to green.
I am getting out of school.
I walk six blocks home alone,
creating stories of moving away,
being asked to join a boy band,
my mother getting transferred,
my father getting a real job.
There is a box of clothes on our porch.
There is no note.
I know who left it.
I drag the box inside.
It’s the first warm day since snow,
mom won’t be home for an hour,
I want to be outside, in a tree,
living someone else’s life,
but I stay inside until mom gets home.
I follow the rules.
Jake is supposed to watch me,
Who knows where he is,
Micah drops off his book bag,
Heads to the park,
He does not invite me.
When mom gets home I tell her about the box,
Run to the park and climb my favorite tree
the one that defines the makeshift end zone.
I imagine it is my home.
I am no longer a boy,
But have mutated into a tree person.
I cook and clean our branches,
polish the leaves,
raise the seed’s,
until my tree husband comes home
and he makes love to me like a redwood,
sturdy and strong.
I hear moms whistle,
jump from the tree and race my brothers home.
The box of clothes sits in our sunroom all summer,
while I am driving from field to field
moving water so my father can grow money.
I swim every day,
My skin has turned a deep brown.
I am surprised at how white my thighs are.
Tornados break the monotony of farming.
My brothers wash the boat.
My mother packs the food.
We take the camper to the lake.
My dad skis.
I watch him fall
I build sandcastles, swim with the fish,
and run around in my life jacket.
I am happy here.
Before school starts
We make one final trip.
Mom hates school shopping.
We buy only what we need.
I am limited to one pair of shoes
that will be worn during P.E.
I will wear Jake’s P.E. shoes from last year.
Micah will wear mine.
Noah will wear Micah’s.
When we get home,
we sit down and go through
the boxes of clothing
that have accumulated in our house.
They have started to overwhelm mom.
The boxes are sorted between the four of us.
Pants we don’t have a choice;
if they fit, we wear them,
no matter the condition.
But I get to choose the shirts.
The rejects become rags on the farm.
I take the stack of clothes to my bedroom,
carefully place my new wardrobe in my dresser
like it’s a collection of hope diamonds.
I am fifteen years old.
I have held my own job for three months.
I am in Old Navy.
I purchase my first brand new t-shirt.
It is blue, I wear it til the thread
in the seams break and the sleeves fall off.