gator ride through the orchard (easter)

the tractor growled, and we flew down the hill,

twisting, turning through the trees

steering handle spinning as we snuck past the fence

“This is illegal, by the way”

the grandkids are screaming, half fear, half delight

that grandpa would do something so reckless.

mentally, I am careening back across that Arcade highway

the snowplow shatters us again! I snap back to reality

jolting, the grass is high and the road is rubble

the steep hill we are climbing, fast

like the road to Kidepo, soaring over the stony hills

swerving, sliding around in the loose shale

even the dirt matches, it is orange dust

and I am 12 years old again, home and free

after burning season, the grass comes back this green

and the ash leaves charcoal traces all over your white skin.

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this thanks I give

over heavy-laden heads and hands

clenched

fingers red-white as they shake together.

watching the aged crown of white stammer,

tell me of your lifestory and cry proudly

over your grandchild’s hand,

his blue eyes are yours.

re-reentry.

two weeks from now, Nakor(u) will return

she will throw on old tshirts, run barefoot,

drink chai and kahawa and bottled sodas

walk for miles into the hills and villages

shoulder gunny sacks, sling toddlers up onto her hip

roll through gritty, dusty syllables of truth

spitting the sunflower seed shells from cracked dry lips

hang off of the back of open pickups and little dirtbikes

bathe splashing from basins, rubbing the rusty earth from skin

sit up late at night with only hurricane lamps and candles

sleep outside under trees and stars.

….

there is so much she’s missed

not gonna lie, there is so much that hasn’t been translated

through the tea strainer of chilly mornings

into what can be understood by real life.

why there’s always salt in my hair,

hair that’s been cut shorter and dyed,

the way my arms and legs are paler from lack of sunshine,

the layers and layers of clothing that are never enough

_

but most importantly, the 10mg of hope

the cast for my heart

the bit I toss back every day with my afternoon coffee

 – how will I explain?