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the empty

The fat girl as they call her, came to school with a hypodermic needle in her backpack. It may have been to defend herself, it may have been to instigate something. She comes from a broken home and this is her second or third school. E steers clear of her, and the bullies she tangles with. It was never understood  - how things began, who threw the first insult, the first punch, the first grabbed book but the end is a chronic cycle of violence. At one point, the girl's mother got the police involved and this was seen as offensive, a step too far. The police did not resolve anything so it was all just a lot of saber rattling. That is the most common sound here. The empty threat.

Last week, there was a sobrani, sort of a cross between a parent-teacher conference and a school meeting. I was busy, so E went by herself and took notes. Five minutes in she messaged me, that I was wise not to be there. Nothing about this girl was going to be resolved.
"Boys will be boys" was all …

jholtei ghorka (the yellow slide)

The yellow slide,
a dirty macaroni
shape
children clawing their
way backwards
and then
swirling down.
She wanted to
every time,
taking the short green
one instead.
Playing in the sand
making star shapes
and little cakes.
Quietly, I brought
her to the
bottom.
We sat, even
lay down and
looked up at the
clouds.
I began pulling her
by the hands
up a few
feet,
then letting her go.
She was terrified
like our kittens
during a
thunderstorm.
And we returned, each
time a few
extra inches
me letting her
go, then
catching her.
“Papa, will you catch me?”
She asks, every single
time.

There was a great
red rooster
when I was
a boy.
I wore jeans each
summer to avoid
getting pecked
during his daily
attacks.
I banged pots
and pans together
got the dogs
after him
but he kept
coming
until he died
and we made a
great soup from him
which I savored
for hours
sitting at the dinner table
long after everyone
had gone to watch
tv.

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