AFTER SCHOOL BUT BEFORE DINNER
by Lisa Kusel
Titillated by the chocolate milk the boy runs
out to the pasture, blank and wanting
moisture and sun to meet it halfway.
He whistles to the dog Mac and they
gallop long like pogo-sticks between
high grasses cackling in the wind
on the blacktop heat of a Tuesday afternoon.
Ladybugs divide their time on stalks and cling
as the whoosh of Mac’s tail
stutters past and threatens their desperate
altitude. Safely they lower down to the
dry ground and continue moving
toward something beyond his notice.
The pollen shifts to the east, its timing marked
by a change in the flap of fly wings. He stoops
to ponder a bottle cap tinged old by decay and
rain, partly hidden under dusty sediment
partly exposed its belly cradling tiny
pebbles and a piece of shell
blown in from the sea
a thousand miles beyond
the mottled cattle curtain
hung low on the horizon.
The dog sniffs the afterthought of a footprint.
The Earth changes position
and comes to a rest as the boy shifts
the bill of his baseball cap to the back where
his neck begins to redden.
On his knees he follows the quotidian
industry of an ant factory. Up past
the quilted field, green on brown on gold on
rust bordered by fence post stitching
the sky pays him no heed.
And he returns the sentiment.
Lisa Kusel is the author of Hat Trick (Hyperion) and Other Fish in the Sea: Stories (Hyperion). Her poems and essays have appeared in Zuzu’s Petals and Parent Co. Magazine, as well as in the tea-stained journal on her nightstand. She occasionally blogs at On Monkey Forest Road
Image: “Cetechovice, Side Street”, by Packa