We fled summer’s heat for the shade
of Sycamore Road. Barefoot and cat scratched,
we posed as princesses, wearing cockleburs
as crowns, blue chicory for corsages.
We sidestepped beer cans, kicked whiskey bottles
filled with thick pools of tobacco spit.
Bones rested in gravels nests near guardrails,
whole skeletons scattered by tractors
and old pickup trucks. We knew what peered
out from behind the purple thistle, what
curled around bent speed limit signs.
For every antler or loose feather, we found
groundhog teeth, a set of claws, soft wisps
of a rabbit’s tail. We grew brave, flicked
maggots from fresh kill, the dull thud
of soft bodies hitting tree bark reminding us
of June bugs hurling against back doors
and bedroom windows. At the end of each day,
we whisked our treasures home, decorated
our rooms. The skulls on our dressers
never scared us, even when a jaw curved
into a smile or the empty eye sockets all winked.
With every bone, we planned our new world,
starting with a rib we wrestled from a dead raccoon.
Karen J. Weyant