Susannah Habecker © 2009 All Rights Reserved
The toddlers almost get it, this chain-linked fence,
thousands of iron eyes replacing their mothers; the distraction
of castle captures them. They lift their legs, up
the wooden stairs they go clumsy like overweight soldiers.
They climb and they slide. The bird shit on the pillars shines
white as white on a magpie. Some pick at it like a scab
and swallow it. Six children crossing a drawbridge
are six bridges crossing something drawn by man.
The sky is the color of bullets and the wood chips smell
like trees. “Slide, climb. Imagine wings.” Their mothers have
enough distance to wave now. Blood falls from the sky or, no,
it is cardinals fleeing. Imagine a sword. Its silver handle
encrusted with jade and mother of pearl, both for protection
and good luck. It is beautiful. A thin shaft of light
about to go out pulls a leaf from its stem.
Thousands of eyes follow the leaf to the ground
which trembles under the thunder which rolls
like a cannon ball through the children. The wind picks up
its sword and cuts the clouds open. The children
climb, slide, and drip, the cardinals wait in the trees,
puddles gather beneath the mothers, reflecting
the underside of umbrellas bursting from all the beauty.
Michelle Bonczek is a writer and photographer in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she is a PhD candidate at Western Michigan University. She holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University and an MA from SUNY Brockport. Her poem “Four Corners” received the the 2009 Jane Kenyon Award from Water~Stone Review. Other poems have recently appeared in Cream City Review, Green Mountains Review, Natural Bridge, and Orion.
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