Oxford, Saturday, June
The boys in Florence Park
had strong limbs and keening voices,
little hands urgently clasped, as if in prayer,
around miniaturized AK-47s.
My father curved bamboo, called it a bow.
I shot arrows across the yard into the heart
of a rhododendron bush, silent and blooming.
There was a father in Florence Park,
when his son was tired he took the plastic gun
and packed it into a picnic basket.
Do you sometimes see the shadow
of the person a child will become
falling over their face, their little hands,
the toy weapons they carry, mouths full
of emotion, mouths full of screams?
Cecile Afable is a Filipino-American writer who was born in the Catskill mountains of New York state and has subsequently lived in central Massachusetts, Boston, Grenoble, and the Ardèche region of France. She spends a lot of time thinking about the history and evolution of language. Afable is one half of the renga project at halfemptyhalfdangerous.com, and you can find her on instagram @ars_poetica_et_cetera.