Bikes lean against the sides of houses, wet
towels lie in heaps on screened porches,
children abandon cups of lemonade
and dolls and bury themselves in pools.
There is no music.
And if there were, it would have no words.
Through a haze of streets and distances,
the cry of a child being spanked.
The only sound.
In some second floor bathroom, a girl
stares into a bathtub full of menstrual blood,
contemplates her reflection darkly.
In my cousin’s inflatable pool, I am five,
my father has just died, and Sheila,
the neighbor-girl, points to a dead bee
on my chest. I look down. At first,
I don’t feel the sting, but when I do, there are
no tears, no panic, just tweezers, ice
swaddled in humid paper towels,
and a pair of hands
pushing me out into the yard again.
And the summer afternoon goes on, unchanged.