Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dustin Is the Boy Who Walks Unencumbered

after Katey Schultz

Dustin walks five feet to school.
It’s further than that, of course, but this is what he tells people.

With a new pair of light-up sneakers
and eight hours in classrooms decorated with stenciled artwork

each crack of the sidewalk becomes a fault line
shaking him further and further from
 his flannel sheets, and the best Buzz Lightyear figurine any boy ever owned.

What saddened him most—though he would not have said it this way at the time—
were the hot hive of fluorescent lights
and the incessant ticking of each clock.

How easily he forgot—without even knowing—
what came before schoolyard fist fights
and cafeteria doldrums.

Help him remember: He’s still young.
He’s playing in the backyard and somehow he’s forgotten his shoes.
It’s raining again because this is what it does.
As is his ability to stand in the rain without concern
for a coat or a hat or an umbrella.

It’s really quite simple. He stands with his bare feet
sinking into the saturated lawn
and counts by fives:
five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty five, thirty, thirty five, forty, and so forth.

That’s it. That’s life. He’s playing all by himself and jabs sticks
into the sopsoil and sings this song over and over and over again.

Until the day after graduation. When he’ll step out the front door
and walk five feet the other direction.

Countless miles of Zumwalt prairie stretching ahead.