Big Bad Wolf
I watched a veteran teacher
With unwavering words, underlined in anger
Address a crowd of 5-year-olds
Asking questions about the big bad wolf
And how to hide from one
And how to be quieter than a mouse
And how to sit scrunched together
In a locked classroom bathroom
There is no big bad wolf
With guns and knives and bodies
And bodies that tower over those kindys
And voices that craft terror and spill hate
Who wait to make students stay quiet forever
When I stole your boots
I didn’t even need them. I had my own shoes. I wasn’t wearing anything that required heels, or suede. I just wanted to be you, be part of your world, closer to what you were.
Your smiling, and pretty, and perfectly cuffed jeans and miniskirted world.
Such a far cry from my sneakers and the denim jacket hanging off my shoulder. Your friends were almost as beautiful, almost as funny, almost as clever as you were. My friends, we were the brainy and weird rejects that sat on the logs after school by the train tracks speaking so earnestly about the horses in books we’d read.
You spotted me. You spotted them. On my feet, wobbling me as I paced our school halls. Two grades below but still underfoot.
The scuff marks were black neon and the twisting heels were cracks that formed between us. The screaming started and my tears fell, perfect drops made on cue, hiding my manipulations. I basked in the attention, cringed at your anger, and pretended that underneath, you were happy for an excuse to be with me for a few minutes.
I don’t remember retribution or consequences beyond future warnings. Unnecessary for long since my shoe size shot past your daintier feet before the next year. Truthfully, I probably stretched those boots out a bit as well.
I do remember laughing about the boots later, in small moments of conversation with you on the phone or after a long night with your oldest baby crying, sitting on your couch. And as we talked about my second baby coming. I remember the head shaking and the chagrined blushing when swapping stories with your friends or mine.
The story doesn’t grow as so many do, it’s always the same telling. And always the same laughing, as we watch a scene from years ago leave us behind, marked but never scarred. Marked and stitched together tight by those boots.
Thousands of moments that came and went and built who we were in scraps and bits. But those boots, and their scuffed-up suede.
Wild Not Feral
When you say wild
You mean broken and scared
Destruction that claws and bites and lunges
From fear and confusion
This is feral
Wild is not feral
Feral smells the wind and knows not why they fear
Wild remembers and kens the scents northern winds blow
Caution, not fear drives the wild
The wild does not dash
They slip soundlessly
Winding through fields and trees
Their wake a movement of air and fur
Feral rips apart the weave and the warp
Breaking binding things
Scared that they will cease to bind
Wild was never held
Wild is what you dream of
And can never hope to be
Free and open and ferocious in their actions
Feral is weak with terror
In the knowledge of life within walls
While outside those barriers
Afraid of sounds remembered only through dimmed instinct
Wild is strong
The Weeds That Grow Between Two Lawns
A strip of weeds
Stinging goat’s head and a forest of dandelions
Framed by the chopped grasses of manicured lawns
With a fence of unwanted life
Do they fight between themselves?
It’s not mine
You do it.
Do they stare at the growing plants
And watch the yellow turn to white?
Do they think of the wind
Sending the seeds from their Switzerland
Spreading into both kingdoms and beyond
What would happen if they just mowed down
That single strip?