on the floor of my vacant high school gym
one cloudy Tuesday morning,
a few countable weeks before summer.
The soft seeds spread out like a thin layer of ocean foam,
churning complacently with the tide,
as I kneel, tip my nose
to the shiny wood,
close my mouth, and breathe in.
The cottonwood smells like new soil, bare feet,
heat lightning, rivers swollen with rain.
Crouching on my knees in the middle
of that open gym reminds me of prayer and of the dying bird
I held a year before in a garage
the color of tears and burning gasoline.
I had washed sticky blood from my hands
and couldn't look at myself
and was afraid to catch the plague of unintentional fragility.
The first-period bell sounds like an alarm
and the pink metal door adjacent me swings open,
revealing a mass of distraught pre-exhausted ninth graders.