For Backyards and Mango Trees

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For Backyards and Mango Trees

When I was a little kid
I had a best friend named Jason
He was invisible to all eyes but my own
And would follow hidden in my shadow
No matter where I came or went
So that every day when I went to school
Where I learned how to curve my letters into that perfect shape
And count colored cubes
He was waiting at the door until I came home
We were inseparable
Him and I
I and him
So much so that
Riding in the backseat of my father's
Maroon Toyota Corolla
Backseat because my small back
Was just a head too short
To reach the headrest which the grownups used
I would watch out my window as Jason ran alongside the car
Taking extra long strides just to keep up and
Jumping over any obstacles in his way
Fences, bushes and red signs yelling for him to stop

Growing up China was always just a couple of scoops of dirt under my front yard
The dirt was red and hard
And when I dug with my hands
It would get stuck under my fingernails
And would not come out no matter how hard I protested
Leaving my hands
And fingers
A bright and brilliant shade of fire engine red
Perfect for coloring with
Back then the backyard was a never-ending expanse of green grass
A never-ending expanse of never-ending expanses
My never-ending adventures would
Expand exponentially the more I experienced
Cut short only by the scorching sun in the sky
The mango tree in the corner offered protection
A sole shadowy spot on the hot ground
The tree was taller than I was
Which was weird cause
It was planted the same time I was born and
I was always the tallest kid in my class, so
Why was this tree taller than me
My eyes would survey my souroundings
Skimming over the ant cities and secret hideouts and
Land on what I was sure was an X on the ground
Underneath which could be nothing other than
A pirate’s buried gold

Now I can’t see so well
I need glasses cause my eyes are so messed up
From reading the small text in textbooks
Teaching me to
Stand up straight and
Sit down quietly and
Not to lisp when I talk and
How to be polite at the dinner table and
What I can say and
What I can’t think
Now I know that the quickest way to China is to fly
And riding in the backseat is far to cramped and crowded for my long legs
The backyard isn’t that big now and
The mango tree was blown away a while ago
Forever stunting its growth
Now I can’t see so well
So I use glasses to see straight

But sometimes while riding in the car
When I take of my glasses
And squint real hard
While tilting my head just the right amount to the right
And that scorching sun is at a specific point in the sky
And I try really
Really
Really hard
I can still see Jason through my window
Running alongside the car
And taking extra long strides just to keep up
Jumping over all obstacles in his way
Fences
And bushes
And red signs yelling for him to
Stop.





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