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We fourth floor tenants of the narrow brick building at a city’s corner
didn’t have sunflowers. There were no roses. There were no budding tulips to brighten the dusty city. We had no daffodils or daisies, but we had our dandelions.
Oh did we have dandelions.
That little spot of green where my children used to play-
The spot between the cracking sidewalk and the dark tower of bricks.
At the same time every day, our sun would grasp the highest metal balcony
and pull itself over the apartments. And there were no shadows cast upon
our little patch of grass in the bustling mid-afternoon when the children returned from school to play among the dandelions.
A young, frail girl runs behind two older boys.
Her skin is pale, even compared to her plain ivory dress soon to be accented with various crisscrossed splotches of green. (She was not bothered by these stains, for although I would scold her, I would smile and she knew I didn’t really mind.)
Giving up on chasing her brothers, she bends down and I can see her little knees with scratches that children her age seem to always have.
A milky hand reaches for the stems of multiple dandelions.
The little bits of dried dirt under little fingernails do not take away from the brightness of the flowery weeds.
In fact, the dirt and the dandelions seem to complement each other.
Grasps. Pulls. Gathers. Smiles.
And the yellow heads grin back at her,
happy to be noticed.
She brings the bouquet to me. We put the glass by the metal kitchen sink under our sole window.
We fourth floor tenants did not have much.
But we had our dandelions.
And who wants a dozen red roses when you can have dandelions next to the sink?
Our kitchen dandelions are now long faded and discarded
but the children still play in our little patch of grass.
The girl takes a lone stem out of the ground and takes it to her brother.
She moves it back and forth on the soft skin under his chin
and little yellow petals fall like stars from the midnight sky.
Giggling as the yellow tint blends into his fair skin,
she tells him he must like butter. She grins, so proud of her newly learned trick.
Half-smiling and shaking my head, I look down on them from the window over the sink.
The dandelions grow older
but stay rooted in our sad little patch of grass.
Their beautiful blonde hair turns white and wispy.
And the children have grown too.
Grown and gone away.
Dispersed like the seeds of the aged dandelions when a little girl makes a wish.
Her wish to be blown by the wind into greener patches was granted
and my wishes for my children were granted too,
Still, every yellow dandelion is a young girl
running with her long blonde hair waving wildly behind her in the wind.
And there is an aged dandelion in the mirror
stuck in the indifferent ground at a dusty city’s corner.
Aged past the stage of sunshine yellow, past the cloud-like sphere
to the point where all that is left of the dandelion blends into the simple blades of grass surrounding it.
For I am the lonely stem of a dandelion
and while the wispy white seeds travel away with the wind,
the stem is never free.