Past the Imaginary Line
by Elizabeth F. Szewczyk

That October, as leaves began their downward spiral,
musty piles on piles,
summer evaporating from autumn's darkness,
the child roamed.

Past wilted gladiolas,
Past picked-over corn stalks,
Past the imaginary line (her mother
warned her not to cross),
to where grass was obsolete
and ants devoured beetle carcass
on cement steps.

Steel slammed--Whack!
(the wind caught the door).
No candy? No gum? No "Little Lulu?"
Scuffed Buster Browns thrashed in the steamy air,
never worn again.

Goodbye gladiolas
(her mother wrenched the bulbs from the dirt).
Trampled corn stalks, frenzied arms,
grasping blood-soaked panties and
white lace to her breast,
blood misting the dirt
while ants devoured beetle carcass
on cement steps.

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