Splinter

I remember walking up the newly tarred drive
Like a tightrope artist
Balancing the weight of my eight year-old frame
On the newly filled cracks that snaked
From the sidewalk to the garage door

I remember traversing the fallen mulberries
That stained the squared concrete patio,
Sunken from age and weight and rain, and yet
Dressed to the nines with bright green Astroturf
And softly padded floral furniture

I remember placing the tips of my fingers
On the freshly painted wrought iron fence,
Adorned with scrolls and swirls and twists
That somehow seemed to keep the giant pine trees
From devouring the small suburban home

I remember the pine cones
And needles and helicopter leaves
That littered the base of every tree,
Covering the red and black lava rock that had been spread
Thousands of miles from the nearest volcano

I remember the bright white rail
Glossy and slick, like frosting, like meringue
Like peppermint candy,
Inviting me to slide my fingers
From one end toward the other

I remember catching a glimpse of myself
In the enormous picture window that hung
Between the giant pines,
Framing the rest of the world
From inside the dimly lit living room

I remember a moment of confusion,
Followed closely by a longer moment of pain.

I remember holding my hand,
The small brown pine needle tightly wedged
Between my fingernail and the flesh beneath,
Inviting tiny drops of blood
To seep slowly from the surface

I remember the tears that warmed the corners of my eyes.

I remember my grandmother standing at the door to usher me in.

I remember the tweezers and salve and gauze and bandaids.

I remember the small plastic bag of pennies; though I do not remember why.

And I remember my grandmother,
The kiss to the top of my cheek,
The dab of a tissue to clear the salt from eyes
The “see you tomorrow” that was
As much a promise as it was a pleasantry

And I remember never touching that shiny white rail again
Without caution
Concern
Skepticism
Fear

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