American Muse: Jennifer Barber


“I Found a 1950s ‘Answer and Color-in Book’”

One day the children played

in the kitchen.
in the cellar.
in the yard.

The yard looked like

a meadow.
a forest.
an island in the sea.

The children forgot their

mud cakes,
swing set,

when a girl taught them

cat’s cradles.
clay people.
folded paper boats.

Late afternoon, whispering, they lay

in a sandbox.
on the sidewalk.
in the grass.

Each knew the others had

a mother.
a father.
brothers, sisters, dogs.

They traded blood oaths that foretold

how close.
how long.
at what cost.

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