In the Yellow Afternoon
  Mary Barnes

Her brothers climb piles of cured wood,
their gleeful shouts
glancing off the woodshed walls
while she stands on the wood-chipped floor
and wishes she were not in her Sunday best—
an ice blue dress of crushed cotton
her mother made
with work worn fingers.

Itching to join her brothers
she thinks of the leaps she could make,
to climb to the highest pile
and beat them at their game.
She struggles with decorum
but the love of play, the high jinks,
and taunted by their shouts of daring,
she steps onto the first pile.

Snags and rips
a two-inch right-angled triangle in the perfect circle of her skirt.
It will take some fine stitching
to mend the hole.
She waits for the deep scolding to come
but her mother’s mouth is full of pins.

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