Paula at Five and Six
by Laurie Joan Aron

Pigeons nestled on brick ledges,
like your hand nestled in mine
so long ago (it seems),
when we walked up our street
looking for diamonds and hearts
in the ironwork.

Today, you remember that day.
"When I was little," you said,
my gap-toothed girl.

Today my hand is empty.
You stomp to make the pigeons flap,
and sprint ahead into the wild park
to whack your way through thickets
and climb rock ledges.
Queen of the mountain!

You still ask permission
to pick the ripening dandelions.
You blow the white puff hard until
seeds fly on their risky missions,
then turn your back on them
to yank the pungent onion grass.

"I love you," I say into silence,
until, over your shoulder,
you reply, "I know."

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