Trampoline

In the air I’m a kid, split second floating, suspended, before gravity tugs me back to the coiled elastic mat. Legs, torso, shoulders, body of pounds, my weight denting the flexible floor. Calve muscles support the landing, trembling energy moving like a feeble pogo stick. Is that all you’re gonna do, just sit there jumping up and down? My daughter asks. As if I have a choice, as if I could leap spontaneously, do a flip or twist. I smile watching her limbs lunging carefree, that song Riptide playing in the background, the one we both like. This is all I can do, but I won’t stop. I say like the middle-aged man that I am. Do a trick, come on, she cajoles. Deliberate, I push harder, hop higher, watch this, touch my toes in mid air. That’s your best? She laughs. I just grin, glad that I’ve fooled her, glad that she thinks there’s more in the tank.

Camping Out

He’s almost 8, my son lying next to me, his permanent smile mirroring my own. Is that Saturn? he asks, looking up at the sky. I ditched the tent’s cover, only transparent thin fabric between us and the universe. Am I trying to remember what 7 was like, or did I never grow up? It doesn’t matter, we are here, together, our fingers pointing at constellations, sometimes a plane flying off to cross the Pacific. We talk about other earths and aliens until he drifts into slumber mid-sentence.

As he snores quietly I read about Lydia Child, her quest to end slavery. I listen to the crickets, imagine camping without the tent, without freedom, following the north star to Philadelphia or New York or Canada. Then I’m asleep. I dream about walking deep in the woods, seeing a gray fox. I wake to the sound of rustling bushes. It might be 1am, click my flashlight on, sets of eyes reflect back from outside the tent. Two deer a few feet away nibbling grass. Pausing they stare at me, then trot off. Asleep again until maybe 4am, then Hudson has to pee. We totter out half-awake, an owl hooting nearby, the two of us in our pjs, little streams in the dark.

It’s morning, Hudson says at 7am. He’s snuggled up next to me in his sleeping bag, hair mussed. Good morning, kid, I say. We grin, no words, just love.

She’s Twelve

I turned twelve once
the party was chaotic
all boys tackling boys
football on the lawn

she is totally different
sitting by the pool
laughing with her friends
5’5 a girl woman

talks about Victorian houses
between ballet kitchen twirls
in the shower forever
singing Shawn Mendes songs

her door closed now
at night reading alone
wants a phone because
her friend has one

we watch Mamma Mia
imagine her in Greece
want to freeze time
keep us both young

I embrace it all
childhood has to go
teenager around the bend
beginning of the end

Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

plant seeds in fields
knees in wet dirt
rabbits watch and twitch
sun and fog above

lunch bell starts slowly
come and get it
what they have harvested
the ones who meditate

they smile with peace
bow to each other
cut bread, scoop soup
some sit in silence

voices of children sing
small feet on earth
present moments at play
grateful for this day

Another Shooting

I don’t go the movies because I’m afraid. My nephew tells me. My mind goes back to that evening in 7th grade when I watched Silent Night, Deadly Night, then read The Hobbit until dawn because I was too scared to sleep. Looking at him, I see that’s not what he’s talking about. I’ve been back to that theater once in the last 3 years, but never at night. He says. He doesn’t use the word shooting, the word that is on the news somewhere right now; shooting, shot, shots fired, mass shooting, school shooting. 2 dead, 9 injured, while watching Trainwreck, but nobody outside of Lafayette, Louisiana remembers. He was 14 then, a mile away, safe at home, but I look at him and see a veteran, a victim, afraid, maybe forever. Fatality, casualty, injured, with injuries, innocent bystander, survivor, relative of survivor, friend of survivor, community member, neighbor. The diameter expands, little, larger, largest, dots, spots, stains on the map, metastatic cancer.