Stretching Beyond Kidhood

At dinner, my nearly-12-year-old daughter laughs with her friend, dirt smeared in patches on her face – under one eye, at her forehead’s crest – possibly where she’s swatted at black flies, or where she’s lain on the earth this summery Sunday, looking at something I’ll never know.

Over their bowls of rice, the girls plot a run and ice cream, our kitchen where the light filters through the apple tree tinged chlorophyll-green, dappled with shadow.

These girls are in the growing-nearly-by-the-moment phase, long legs, budding breasts. And more – their curiosity digging to matters of the heart, parsing apart their actions and their friends’, trying to unraveling the complexities of human relations. In our conversations, we circle around and around, and I can feel swimming beneath the surface of our talk these two girls grabbing those age-old themes of justice, happiness, heartache.

As I’m cleaning through drawers, discarding what I no longer need or want, her friend gathers a chunky handful of assorted keys and knots them together on a piece of wire. She ties them beneath the seat of her bicycle.

I ask what her plans are, and she answers she’s making wind chimes. The keys clink as the girls pedal away, merry.

I wish it would slow…
I want it all
to last, the chimney falling
back to bricks,
the orchard on its way to bud…

Laura Foley, from “The Orchard on Its Way” in Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry

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Elmore, Vermont