I skip, he runs, like best friends do, across the crunchy gravel road, no cares to carry
taking us to the mountain of red-orange clay
to run and wrestle the dirt that stains the white within an inch of it.
I am four, he, five; our friendship igneous by our love of the earth.
I stoop down to play, elbow deep in the dirt
forgetting the father-marine’s warning
The cool damp clay defiles my skin
as far as my arms can go.
I stick in little white arms and pull out the native blush of this Ground.
The sky hawk ascends taking my heart as I run up the side of the dirt foothill;
best buds running up, our giggles and birdsongs the only music
and rolling back down, changing us, pink, head to toe.
I feel strong, capable, and part of this place.
being outdoors—the smell, the trees, dirt, the green grass, the wind, and the blue sky
wake me to life.
My hands muddy with the terracotta earth
reach up and rub my nose til the itch is gone,
and then wipe the sweat from my forehead. The wind blows my hair and we are One.
Until the father-marine screams my name
ripping through backyards of fun, fear grabs me by the throat
I come apart and run, and soon, over my pink legs, lashes from a brown leather belt.