By Nadia Colburn
See all the children in the sandbox intent
at their work. It’s a beautiful day. Perfect.
Strange in its clarity: not a cloud in the sky
and a sliver of moon still out, like a mustache of milk.
At the edge, the mothers talk to keep busy:
what fine weather, one says, then repeats it
as the smallest boy puts a rock
in his mouth. Elsewhere.
Elsewhere–which is what? the town
in the desert gone up in smoke?
the body of the rebel soldier
left in the street to rot?
And they are all looking down
into the dirt-colored sand
to the red-faced girl with the shovel,
to the blue coated boy grabbing it from her.
Or the wide savanna where the days go by
to the big footed cats, where the grasses
and the cats exist under sky, the same sky,
perhaps, not a cloud in it,
and the moon winking down
to a party of gazelle?
For night may never leave
entirely the realm of the senses–
“you must learn,” they are repeating,
the good, the diligent mothers, “to share.”
And the blue-coated boy now is red.
And the red faced girl now is crying
because she wants it back,
what was not hers, that she dig deeper
into the box she won’t believe
has an end.
Nadia Colburn holds a PhD in English from Columbia University and a BA from Harvard. She edits Anchor Magazine: where spirituality and social justice meet and has taught at MIT, Lesley and around New England as a writing teacher and workshop leader. Her poetry and prose have appeared in over sixty national publications including The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, American Scholar, Literary Imagination, Kenyon Review, Boston Globe Magazine, Yes! Magazine and elsewhere. She lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband and two children. More about her can be seen at www.nadiacolburn.com