Out on a Limb
by Dave Oliphant

though Annabella’s short at
four years old it’s
easy enough for her
to climb the live

oak’s limbs with its
crotch formed by a
low perpendicular pair one
grown horizontal in this

playground park out on
which she stretches now
turning about with her
fingers gripping the bark

with feet & bottom
caterpillaring above the imagined
sea as Isabella yells “Don’t
fall or sharks will

eat you alive” then
pulls herself up by
a vertical branch with
Issa directing her to

jump down onto the
grass beyond not the
shaded patch of earth
changed for the game

to water’s dangerous depth
& so she does
then waits her turn
to climb again after

Issa takes her own
when Anna ventures out
farther than before as
her weight lowers the

limb though not in
reach of snapping teeth
but of a sudden
two swashbuckling brats hack

the tree till one
sword nicks her bare
little leg & makes
her cry yet luckily

saved by Issa who
helping her down keeps
her head from the
threatening waves all the

while telling them off
“You mean & nasty
boys you hurt my
sister Go away” shouts

“You do not even
know how to play”
may they live to
regret they bullied her

dream forever of being
knighted on bended knees
by this queen of
all their lonely nights

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