Girls at Twilight

Girls at Twilight

Long-limbed and languid, my daughters perch
on the monkey bars at twilight, feet dangling,

the sinking sun catching in their wild hair.

Remember when they were so small
that sitting there felt daring? That your heart
caught in your throat to see those small bodies
clamber so high across the perilous rungs?

Now what are they whispering, watching
the swallows soar, the sparrows in the trees,
the doves mourning the dying of the day?

Only the evening breeze hears the secrets
they spill into each other’s hearts, the stories
they spin between the two of them,

the way the clouds gather the last light
of the sun into heaping piles of gold,
hoarding the splendor for a few last moments
before it all spills away into darkness.

A cottontail dashes across the lawn,
pauses to nibble clover, plantain,
dandelions. Then lifts a leg to scratch,
calmly grooming amid the blowing stems.

Her legs, though shorter than yours, my daughters,
also astonish as she stretches them,
loping lazy to the gate as we watch,

wonder-struck, knowing that she has treasure,
a secret nest under plantain’s broad leaves
a heaping of dry grass and soft fur —

Such a shallow place to leave a baby
unprotected, in the open. Where any child
might stomp as they romp in tag or fight with swords.

Little mother, you dare not go there
lest you lead hungry foe to hiding place.
You graze far off, pretending that your heart
isn’t beating there among the weeds.

What secrets are the rabbit children
whispering in their fur-lined den?

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