Today, as we made our way home from the playground and the library,* Elder Girleen stooped to the sidewalk.
— Look, she whispered as I pushed the stroller with its freight of sleeping younger sister up to her, holding her palm out flat for me to see. A butterfly’s wing. She gave it a second look. Or maybe a fairy’s wing. She caught her breath. Could it really be?
Who am I to tell her otherwise? And why would I even want to? The time for believing tattered bits of insect wings to be magic is as short as a seven-year-old’s summer.
Tonight at dusk, as I headed out for the circuit of the neighborhood that’s become, this summer, my one unencumbered hour, from the shadowy elms in the vacant lot across the street an owl called, and paused as if thinking better of it, then called again,
Who -cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you?
The musician-who-rents stands outside his apartment, smoking, hand-graffiti’d guitar propped against the building: tattooed sleeves and skinny pants and Beatle boots and floppy hair.
Hello, ma’am, he says politely as I pass.
And off in the distance is the organ-grinder’s music of the ice-cream truck that idles in the parking lot of the apartment complex labeled derisively by the neighborhood’s gentrifiers as Section Eight. The tune’s almost Do Your Ears Hang Low (aka Turkey in the Straw) but not quite.
According to the neighborhood listserv, any ice cream trucks that might cruise through the neighborhood could really be fronts for drug sales.
Could be, I suppose, could be.
But in the meantime, Turkey in the Straw wends its way through the neighborhood and the cicadas sing out their paen to glorious summer —Hot, hot, too hot — and then begin it all over again.
*our cache of books: Spoon and Crazy Hair for Younger Girleen, The People in Pineapple Place for the Elder, Parenting, Inc and Kon-Tiki for me (ruminations on why on earth I might be Im simultaneously reading parenting polemic and nautical adventure tales being grist to some other mill).