I remember picking up a fistful of sand, smooth crystals, like hourglass sand and throwing it into the eyes of a boy. Johnny or Danny or Kevin—he was not important. I was five and I knew he would cry. I remember everything about it— the sandbox in the corner of the room at Cinderella Day Care; Ms. Lee, who ran over after the boy wailed for his mother, her stern look as the words No snack formed on her lips. My hands with their gritty, half-mooned fingernails I hid in the pockets of my blue and white dress. How she found them and uncurled small sandy fists. There must have been such rage in me, to give such pain to another person. This afternoon, I saw a man pull a gold chain off the neck of a woman as she crossed the street. She cried out with a sound that bleached me. I walked on, unable to help, knowing that fire in childhood clenched deep in my pockets all the way home.
The Blower of Leaves
Always there is sky after sky waiting to fall. A million brilliant ambers twisting into the thinning October sun, flooding my eyes in a curtain of color. My yard is their landing strip. Today I bow to the power of negative space, the beauty of what’s missing—the hard work of yard work made harder without you, while the stiff kiss of acorns puckers the ground. I am a fool. Even as the red impatiens wither and brown, they are still lovely. I feed the gaping mouths of lawn bags with their remains. All this time I was waiting for a heavy bough high above to crush us, but really I was waiting for you to say enough. It was a feeling that swirled inside me, a dark congruence, a tempest of the blood pulsing enough, enough. How I had mistaken it for ordinary happiness. I can forgive the wind rustling the aging oaks, the clusters of leaf mush trapped along the fence line, but with you there is no forgiveness. Only refuse. Only the lawn’s dying clover and weeds masquerading as grass. Nothing is ever easy or true, except the leaves. They all fall. Dependable as a season.