I drive by houses when I’m back near places
I used to live and for a second it starts to feel
like I have gone back to that era of my life.
The days are long out here and I know the only
way to shorten them is to take all of those
pictures off the walls and throw them all away.
Backyard sand boxes are a tutorial in
how quickly sand gets old which taken deeper
shows that everything is temporary.
I want to know what was written
on the old signs, now just metal rusted out
among the trees behind the highway
and the fences and the yards.

Teenage girls pick flowers under a mandatory
order from the program that requires them
to find beauty so they can make it through
the day. The boy’s division was on the other
side of the nursery trimming birch trees
when the rain began to lightly fall above them.
I am watching all this from a space in the parking lot
through the windshield and texting back and
forth with my girlfriend about what color leaves
the plant she sent me here for was supposed to have.
She reminds me that they are green just like most
and I apologize and wonder why I was expecting
something different. Standing in line at the counter
I ask two of the patients behind me
why they didn’t have any flowers,
and their response was just to stare at me
as if saying anything meant that I was something real.

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