The spice and the dust
Flavors my insides
Silicates and curries.
Footprints on the brink of my heart, memories of craters and a
Smiling man on a moon over the Catskills in July, 1969,
lost time with my parents and my sister and my childhood dog,
in a bungalow, watching man on the moon.
Too far to taste the dust.
So many years away from tasting the spice
that life will become.
The only spice I know is yellow mustard and red ketchup hardening in old plastic bottles.
The bungalow colony has a day camp.
The counselor leads the other children in a Joan Baez song about
a calf on its way to market
The “calf with a mournful eye.”
They teach me the words and I sing along.
“How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer’s night.”
Nearby, a boy died and they named a softball field after him.
Farther down the hill, there’s a waterfront with a dock rocking over murky water.
After camp, I attack a rotting tree trunk with a hammer. I see the ants from large colonies, running out in a panic.
I slam down the hammer on the queen and the workers and the eggs and the freshly hatched baby ants.
In the evening, my family takes the car to a drive in theater and we watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
It’s such a ridiculous and jolly movie, but it also frightens me.
And the next evening I sing that song about the mournful calf again.
The spice of moon dust is toxic to man.
Fine like sterile spice it contains
Tiny glass balls.
Silicates carve your insides.
I killed the ants with a hammer.
And a boy tried to stop me.
“Your killing the babies,” he said. “Your killing innocent ants and their children.”
And the next day in camp, I boxed him and he hit me hard.
I stumbled in a daze and the match was over.
And the next day he took the hammer and he killed more ants than I did.
And in the evening, I sat in the bungalow with my sister and my father and we ate my mother’s meatloaf in the screened in porch with large enough holes to allow in a few flies.
We ate our dinner and we waited for man to walk on the moon.