Punished, locked in the backyard, leaning on the dandelion fork, I watch my two bare feet. I love bare feet.
I squinch the Kansas crabgrass. I love the yuck, the chlorophyll stain, God's smeary paint on my boy toes.
I have the grip-foot: grass stuck in slender, cringing bunches, sliding away. I grip, I pull. I feel each sandy-slick blade as it releases. I feel it all the way up my tanned legs, and in my inside parts.
I poke at the grass with the fork, and turn my back on the small white house. I sneak a look: she's on the big black wall phone, behind the hot, bright glass of the kitchen window. Her voice – her laugh – comes to me in thick mumbles. I wipe sweat, my fingers wet. I look down. I wander a few steps; I stab at the chalky muck along the low rock wall.
I cut one of her strawberry vines. I crush the dead, yellow runner with the fat vee of the fork.
I wipe my neck and crane around. I stop, eyes on kitchen windows. She's going to run the vacuum now. She's in the closet, cursing at the cord.
The sun is hot.
I watch. I don't want to get in trouble, for not moving around enough. I poke and walk, eyes on grass, eyes on windows, eyes on grass. I stop and dig a real weed. I pick it up, take a few steps, and throw it on the pile. White fluff escapes. Seven weeds. He will expect a pile. I go back to the hole and hide it with my toe.
I wipe my eyes.
I wander, two more weeds. I reach the hedge and walk in slow circles. I'm not hiding. It's an accident, see? I'm not hiding. In sight, not, in sight, not. I stop behind the holly hedge. I crouch. I invent an excuse for everything I do. I'm checking. Is this a weed? I'm working! I shade my eyes and look under the shrubs at the kitchen door, at the cracked pane where my good Sunday shoe kicked it in. It was an accident.
My knees, perfect knobs, jostle my chin. I smell of church day talc.
The vacuum vrmm-vurv-vumvles and aahhchh-aah-aachhs, from inside. I am safe. I can goof off now. I wander, hidden, behind the hedge. At the chain link I let the fork tip drag along: chatck-chat-t-k-kat-at. A coin-y jangle ripples behind me, follows me to the hiding corner of barberry and sycamore and scrub. I turn sideways and slide inside. The grass is cooler here.
I lean against the rattling fence, out of sight. I turn my head: Mrs. Trombauer's green plastic sun roof. I turn my head: the fat babysitter's fake bricks. Nobody. I breath.
I wipe my eyes.
I jab the fork deep in the black loam. It sways, stands. I look down: I grip the cool blades with filthy toes. I pull, I drop them a few at a time on Dad's stack of smashed concrete slabs, broken and crumbling under low, dead branches. I grip, squeeze, pull, drop. Green bits, making a mess on his concrete. I wipe my toes on the dead leaves. I look straight up, through the empty branches, and smell October tree smell, scorch and burn and must.
He will be home and I will get it bad. He will be so mad. I take in a ladled breath; it ends with a small, lost, last clutch, like a rock dropped on a plate.
A final summer grasshopper, late for death, scissors from somewhere onto a dry branch. He turns, clumsy, and flips to the white concrete, a zzzzaattt as he flies. Alive in my strewn grass bits. I grip more grass with my pale, handsome, mucked-up toes, and teeter above him. I rain blades. One lands on the crinkled skin of his fat jumper leg. He sits, solemn-eyed. He moves a bit, then he's gone, a blur in the shade.
I put my hands behind my head and sweep the torn grass away with my clumsy foot, my inattentive leg, my tinker-toy hip, until there is no proof, and all is clean.
Four more hours 'til Dad. He'll want to see the pile. I better get busy. It's the belt either way.
A fat prairie fly buzzes by.
I tongue the inside of my swollen lip, the loose tooth behind it. I spit: a red circle, a wet, red dime fringed with concrete dust as fine as baby powder, a lost red button edged in crumbly lace. I grip-foot green, pull, drop, pull, drop, and hide my blood.