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A Summer Night at Crane’s Castle

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We pile ourselves into a khaki-colored sedan, the pale limbs and elbows of youth
sticking out windows and doors that slide closed with a thud. Dogs
bark at us from the sparkling sidewalk in the sun, smells
seep through the cracked-open windows and we blast music, beats that begin
to thump shudder and shake the entire vehicle; we nod our heads up
and down in time until we park in the visitor’s lot, unpack, and decide it’s time to live.

We sprawl languidly across the lawn of an estate, people still live
here, they do, but a wealthy landowner build it in her youth
and now they host parties here, against the creamy sand and sugar-bowl sky, up
on this glorious green hill; we find a spot on the ground, we eat hot dogs
from soft white buns we look at each other with googly eyes and begin
to take it all in, the black speakers and thick rubbery aux cords, the smells

of empanadas and hamburgers cooking in the sunset, it really smells
like a mixture of sweat and dust but that’s okay because we live
in a state of constant dirtiness, streaky faces like kindergarteners’; we begin
to giggle at the dad in the Hawaiian shirt, me and you and the rest of the youth,
tossing a beach ball over the heads of loose-leashed dogs
and of the people dancing in the dark, lit up

by the headlights of the food trucks, parked up
the hill in their semicircular formation, cult-like, “smells
like home,” i said, and we lay on blankets in the dew-kissed grass,
          shouting “it’s still summer” and laughing like dogs,
because we know we’re going to live
forever, and that is what youth
does, it tells you where things begin

and never where they’re ended. We begin
with an affirmation; staying up
late one last night in August, six of us youth
and a Ouija board, fingers to wood that smells
ancient, shushing each other to hear the ghosts that live
behind our parents and their parents and their dogs

where they’re buried with their masters, dogs
that were endlessly loyal and so will we be, as we begin
our growing-up; we swear to each other, fingers linked, that we will live
fully, live without restraint or obligation, a blood oath to live up
to the vows we’re making in this tiny bedroom, the smells
of our breath fermenting in the slowly cooling air, our youth

trickling away into autumn, when we disappear to college leaving youth
and childish fancy behind and slowly forgetting what it feels, tastes, smells
like to be on the verge, preened feathers wet in the night breeze, still looking up






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