Skin flakes like the brown earth.

The grass, each small and singular strand,

lies listless, without hope.

The squirrels, rulers of the urban wood,

sit and stare. Even the lilac languishes,
brief glorious scent threatened.

Machined air hums in the houses

On the sidewalks
there are no mothers watching

there are no children playing.
We are shut-ins against the heat.

So when the rain comes,
pelting hard like in the old days,
my kids run into the street to
build a dam, a big dam, and I don’t care.

They haul wet pine needles
and old grass to the gutter.
Piles of it. And the water
backs up. It bubbles balloon scraps,

twigs, a rough catch in a willow branch.

Rain flattens grass to ground,
hair to cheeks, and though
it’s getting dark
I do not call them in.
The children need watering too.

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