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LONELINESS

 

My father made me keep
the bright orange Sanka cans,
with holes in the lids
for ventilation, on
the back porch overnight.
But by morning, sunlight
had steeped my frogs
like tea bags, their bodies
hot to touch as I laid
them out under
the Nanking Cherry trees
and tried to revive them
with cold water
from the garden hose.
When my father took
them away to bury,
my mother asked me not
to cry. That night
was the Fourth of July,
and my mother and father
and I went up to the attic
to watch the fireworks,
each with a plate-sized
circle of watermelon.
I remember the rusty smell
of metal and dirt from
the attic screen windows,
which were rarely opened;
how they were littered
with the clear, silver skins
of mayflies, who had shed
the boundaries of their old
bodies so easily. I remember
how silent it was in between
the sporadic, bass drum putter
and teakettle whistling
of the fireworks, and how,
like some exotic, spangled
night-blooming radiance,
desolation flowered again
and again over the roofs
of our neighbors' houses.

 

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