One Saturday, We Move Quietly through the Unthinkable

Where are the toys
in your house, asks my grandson
with his face next to the cell
phone screen. The sky's not ash
or amber where we are in the south.
We've barely been outside
these long months. He watches
solemnly as I pick up a little
metal thing with wheels;
pull it back, then let it roll
across the floor. It tracks a wobbly
line that comes to a stop at the far
end by the wall, near the coat
rack and the outside shoes lined up
by the door; next to a shelf of books.
It's mostly quiet in our neighborhood,
but none of us heard when a gust
of wind knocked down the deck
umbrella sometime in the night.
Now and again, the high-up hum
of cicadas. Imagine a sound
like that, magnified by flame
and crackling through dry
hills in the west. The animals'
ears pushed back; each one
alert and unblinking.



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