By: Michelle Nedboy

It reeks of applesauce

and kid sweat, the tables pushed

out to the sides like bleachers.

Stacks of abused board games

get brought out and plunked;

there are never enough pieces.

Dunked, by bored genius,

we turn a chess set into a disco,

lose the pieces like it’s the

Scooby show. Ruh-roh.

Every day is Christmas

‘cause we get a second recess.

We bound up the light blue stairs

with its chipping banisters.

We skip across the blacktop’s cracks,

stop and squat when we feel like it,

watch the bugs crawl

then squish ‘em up,

their bodies spitting

bug ketchup.

We get cold but run

to make ourselves hot,

our hoodies tied in loose-fitted knots,

the cool October breeze kisses our knees

the sinking sun turning us into trees.

We eat leaves but spit them out,

pocket rocks and turn into scouts,

who look for curse words

they daren’t shout.

Inside the windows are

sheeted with black,

the cafeteria a lightbox;

we flit around like moths

with orange basketballs

‘til our hands chap.

Kids get taken home,

the mountain of

jackets and backpacks

eroding to none.

The darkness outside

fuzzes my sight around the edges,

as if I’m back in my room

imagining witches,

my vision useless.

But the warmth of my dad’s car

gives me peace, the blinking buttons

and dials evoking sleep.

I don’t fall asleep, but I dream,

as my eyes track the smudgy street lamps

searching for Halloween,

Sting humming in the background

to his own lazy beat.


A version of this originally appeared in “Comfort” The Teller November 2019 Issue #8

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