I left Washington long ago
by Sam Friedman

Our half-formed hands pulled
rusted spoons through reluctant ruddy clay,
tearing a shallow gully down alongside our house
six miles from Capitol Hill.

Yellow-jackets buzzed to and from our
roses red and roses white
while bumblebees sucked luscious dandelions
and black ants engineered new hills
of orange dusty dirt.

We ran to hide ourselves and seek ourselves
beneath the green-gray maples,
plucked raspberries from bushes well-rooted in carmine soil,
and made pies of cherry mud on days
when earthworms burrowed through
the blush-red soil beneath our feet.

Now, when I drive south from my Jersey home,
brown dirt brightens towards crimson,
toward soil redolent with memories of Lee and McClellan,
of red-tape days and baiting Reds,
of red ink as an alibi
for bloodless hearts.

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