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D. McDougle


We fall short of Better Homes and Gardens, 
Southern Living, and every Conde Nast publication 
ever conceived.

Shrug it off.

We are Wal-Mart and the occasional extra-value meal. 
We are store-brand and we are not ashamed. 
Tense, yes. Hungry, yes. 
All too aware of the line.

The gossamer thread we trample 
holds back ruin. 
It is the foundation we rest on. 
The foundation of our lives.

We had to color outside the lines though they are unaccustomed to disrespect. Or maybe because.

Boxed in, standing at the base of this one, gazing up. 
A+ for magnitude. Rising up so far, so far...summit lost in the clouds. 

Or so we assume. One must assume there is a top to the thing. 
A plateau to rest on and come off the other side of. 
One must assume that. Otherwise, we would stay in our beds.

Up and up and up. I have my crayon. Purple Pizzazz. 
A non-traditional color. A non-traditional name, more precise. 
Side by side with magenta, there is no appreciable difference. 

The insistent rooster crows. Wake up! Wake up! 
Late in the day, a mid-autumn mid-afternoon. 
In four years, the baby bamboo has grown to resemble a grove. 
Room for a tired lawn chair amongst the stalks. 
A sudden forest (with eyes squinted just so). 
With no eyes at all, soft rustles and whispers are wise. 
Secrets are told. Possibilities uncovered. 
Cups filled, souls restored.

Wake up! It's getting late.

Here. A gift. Crayons. 
Brand new (with built-in sharpener, lest those lines dull your edge). 
Go. Be strong. Be brave. Be bold. Be careful.

There are the children to think of. 
Major medical and dental. 
Do I owe you something? 
These lives, so tangled...

Nothing personal. But it is. It almost always is.

There isn't any more. 
Go back to bed. 
Wake up flop-eared,
fur loved off, jelly stained, loose jointed. 
It's real. 
Just ask the skin horse.

Donna McDougle hasn't mowed the lawn since the bamboo staked its claim. Both are pleased with the arrangement. It's also true that she's never used the built-in sharpener, preferring instead the torn and broken bits in the bottom of the box that prevent the more orderly from lining up in proper rows.

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