by Annmarie O’Connell
[You see the spiny claws of a tree]
and it’s so much uglier
than the half leaning tree next to it,
half -covered in yellow-orange burnt leaves
which seem to wave at you.
You want to know if it’s okay
to wonder about the way things weather.
Your body disappears into a flurry of leaves
that confuse you in the warmth,
like how beautiful the little
boy looks standing there in front
of the black diamond city-
linked fence by the filthy railroad tracks.
You want to tell him
the things you’re afraid to leave behind
the things you still carry.
[You seem to have everything]
until the young boy at the disheveled park
strides toward you and the place you rest your dark eyes.
He stomps after his mother in mighty bursts.
He calls her name into the folds of his dirty palms for the rest of his life.
You can feel
the rhythmic pounding of every foot-
step zap your sluggish brain.
Lick it clean as a bone.
[The first afternoon after the day]
you can no longer differentiate me
from the pile of dirt
that feeds the pale green
string of city trees,
you will pull down the blinds
above the bed-
crush the pieces of sunlight
You will get on the 53B bus and tell the mother
who wipes the corners of her baby’s mouth
something about the hardest part
of beginning again.
I will be the passing shadow
across your knees
Annmarie O’Connell is a recent graduate of New England College’s MFA program in Henniker, New Hampshire. After working in social services, she decided to teach college writing. She recently taught Composition and Speech to culinary students pursuing their associate’s degree in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Tygerburning Literary Journal and is forthcoming in THRUSH Poetry Journal, SOFTBLOW and The Rusty Nail.