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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

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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