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Today I watched a young boy, his jacket fallen beside him,
watching something over a gray fence. I could see
a red tractor parked in a field of dead March grass.
The boy stood on tip-toes, on the bottom rail, just looking
at that wonderful, overgrown toy. He didn’t notice
when I idled the car behind him, or when I drove on.
I think about this last day of a month when
winter’s left behind and spring’s still
too far ahead, like that machine we can’t climb on
unless someone will offer us a ride, and we know they won’t.
But we stand right there, as though expecting
the engine to start going, and the ground to begin turning over
rich and dark, ready for planting.
It’s not weather or seasons I’m really thinking about,
merely the time of year, in a year of big changes,
when the best, most awaited change is about to happen,
yet seems more remote than in all the months before. We see it
sitting right over there, the same as spring, the same
as that red tractor; and we can only stare at it over a fence.
Where would it take us anyway, just around that old
patch of dirt. Still, then it would begin to rumble and dig
and what we’d been hoping for would come through at last,
newer and greener than in any year past,
at least that’s what we’d say as we sat high up
on the tarnished seat, having been lifted to it
exactly like we’d been waiting for all along.
From King of the Fireflies (Sensitive Skin, 2018) by Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. Copyright 2018 Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
Tompkins is a poet and violinist who divides her time between New York and Nashville.