Mom said OUT and out we went
the screen door adding emphasis
as we scurried onto the porch with
our blanket, book, apples and two
worn decks of cards.
It was hotter in the house than it was
outside even with windows wide, the
fans turning June air like cream in a
butter churn and the babies were
Mom didn’t need us underfoot so we
took to the feet of the weeping willow
to make our camp in the cool beneath
tendrilled boughs in their dappled
puddles of shade.
She could read and I listened curled
close lest any word roll away in the
grass but when the story outpaced my
interest in the pictures, she’d put
the book aside
and say, “time for apples,” which did
not mean apples only but that the bright
crunch was accompanied by the slap
of cards as she practiced the impossible
art of shuffling.
War was the game and with two decks
combined it was hours before we were
bored, the cards slick with our sweat, the
spokes on the bicycle imprint trimmed
with apple stains.
Finding a breeze came next each day,
and she always went first to show me how
a hand went here, and a foot there until we
found air at the top that made our tree
bend and shimmy.
This was how we played together, her a
little older and more practiced, always
teaching me to reach up like she did,
and I was the perfect playmate ever
willing to learn,
until the day came when we sought a
zephyr and she kept climbing hand over
hand into heights beyond my courage
and she passed the place of turning back
so I was left
alone on the ground with my apple core
and words I couldn’t read wondering how
she could grow up and leave me like this,
under the willow on a blanket with
two decks of cards.
© Dana Hughes 3.11.17
I love this. I love the image of her climbing the tree until she climbed beyond your reach and left you on the ground with two decks of cards. So gently painful.