When You Were Six


We played on the walk in front of the blue
house that had little plastic animals
out front we played with the chalk that we found
somewhere by the high school down there by the park that we
went to when we were smaller on Saturday afternoons with our mom.
The little animals were pressed in the earth that was
blackened and packed in and set in a circle round a wood stump
that was probably once a tree trunk but we couldn't be sure.
We drew big balloons under crescent moons with men inside
and then girls and big hearts and then flowers and pies
and you drew out your name in big letters to show that you were Mark
who was smart who could spell because when the neighbours walked by
they should know that.
I don't know why the animals in the dirt never moved or got lost
or got stolen or bored watching two kids write with coloured
rock on the sidewalk before their mother called from the house that
it was too late to be out all alone in front of the blue house
with the dirt and the stump because there were
scary guys and watchful eyes that might want to steal us away.
We would go in and our fingers would be covered in dust from the
chalk and we'd wash and underneath all the dust we'd find blood
that we didn't know was there and we didn't care because it
just meant that we'd been pushing so hard
on our chalk that we'd lost track of pain and only thought of your
name and how it looked on the walk
when you were six.

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