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I'm a State

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  • I'm a State

    There’s a tall mesh fence covered in ivy
    And if you push aside some leaves, you see right through
    Into the backyard of some well-to-do housewife,
    Though I don’t know her name.
    And her lawn’s still green in wintertime
    While we’re huddled for warmth over on this end.
    I get a feeling that’s it’s always summertime for her.

    And she has three children:
    Two boys and one girl.
    You can tell they’re spoiled by how loud they complain
    And what they complain over.
    The boys usually complain about being bored
    And the girl complains about the boys complaining.
    Whenever the housewife asks how they can be bored,
    Since they’ve got four footballs, two soccer balls, three tennis rackets, a baseball bat and six baseballs,
    “And of course, each other!”
    They say that they haven’t gotten anything new in months.
    Then the next day they get something new and the boredom’s over for an hour.
    Just an hour.

    There was a time when we would press close to the fence to watch them
    And come away in the evening with the mesh imprinted on our skin and jealousy in our minds.
    There was even a day where one of us spoke up--
    Which really means all of us spoke up, as far as the neighbors were concerned--
    And asked if they still wanted their old toys.
    The two boys scowled at us and the older sister led them inside, shooting a dirty look over her shoulder
    As if our greed was inferior to theirs.

    Sometimes, we can hear the housewife talk on the patio
    With her entourage of other housewives
    That she’s accumulated over a lifetime of idleness.
    We can hear when she talks about us;
    Not Jayden, Brody, Jeanie, Kesha, Serenity, and Travis,
    Just us.
    She says, “It’s a shame,” but we don’t know what “it” is,
    But usually it’s followed by,
    “I really ought to do something about that fence.”
    We think she means to take it down
    So that maybe her green grass will spread onto our dust playing field.

    But I think about the “us” often.
    I wish she’d let me into her yard one day--
    Just me, not us--
    So that I can joke and play with her children
    And show her that I’m not connected to any satellite mind
    Or tuned in to the same radio frequency
    As Brody, Jeanie, Kesha, Serenity, and Travis.

    I want to show her that we don’t multiply like cancer cells
    Or stay linked together like monkeys in a barrel
    Or walk in line like ducks swimming in a row.
    I want to take over the big map of the United States that serves as my blanket
    And I want to point to the country
    Then just at the states;
    Two things on the same sheet of paper.

    One day, we noticed something new.
    Barbed wire circled the top like the crown of Christ.
    We don’t go to the fence anymore.