Patchy shade

patchy shade scattered on asphalt and gravel
we bathed in it and called it our castle
I never liked the heat
it made icy poles of our bodies
and blood rush to our cheeks

we sat on foreign ground so close to home
I used to tell my friends there was a koala in the branches
but only if you squinted your eyes and looked very close
we planted our palms on the peeling bark
no tips, no tip backs, safe zone

squeezed our bodies tight and wrapped around the trunk
if I can’t see you, you can’t see me, always made us laugh
pushed our limbs into jagged branches and smiled
no one will find me here, at least not for a while

we chatted on our walks to school and life chirped back
raced through frosty grass and tapped the trunk, done
I was always cheater and also always last
it didn’t matter, we ran until our chests screamed broken glass

in later summers
I waited tables down the winded street
stared out of the dirty windows
watched the leaves dance to the café jazz, offbeat

soon I was speeding down the autumn streets
at night, scarecrow, silhouette strangers ended up being the trees
I listened to Moon Song while the moon bounced off glistening leaves
I focused on the road – is what my Dad likes to think

every day I let go of yesterday
wait for tomorrow to grow
I scatter future seeds throughout my life
and I love to see new thoughts and friends push their baby branches to new heights
I soak myself in the shade that new school friends set forth
and I hide behind the trunks of newly sprung stories I am told
but everything I do, and everywhere I go
my castle swings silent in the backdrop of my world
it is my hiding spot, my safe zone
and there is a koala living in the branches, if you look very, very close.


© Audrey McCormick, 2021