As we drive, Somalian rhythms toast the cold morning
with music by those guys we met at Hesler Street Fair.
The kids roll their eyes at so many festivals,
hikes, and field trips, but they get into it
even if their favorite tale is Mom
wheeling Nellie the Van away
before a cop flips his ticket book open.
Stopped next to a school bus, I wave at faces
foggy behind closed windows, remember
‘keep your eyes on the board’ never kept
the world outside from clamoring.
Yesterday my youngest canoe-schooled,
floating in our pond far from reminding voices
sailing leaves, reading, sometimes singing
of life complex as arithmetic.
The nine-year-old cut balsa scraps
into rockets of his own design
to launch past cornfields and lose in the woods
with complete satisfaction.
The thirteen-year old read comics in Latin
then made a maze for her rats,
kissing them above their pink eyes
when they peeked whiskerly
from the cardboard exit.
Today we meet fellow homeschoolers
outside Jones Potato Chip factory.
Tea tags hang from mothers’ travel mugs
and babies hang in slings
while older children
swoop and call like crows.
Inside we tuck white caps on heads and feet,
watch potatoes slumbering in bins
roused to tumble toward showering scrubbers.
The small, the misshapen, are tossed into pits below.
Winners tremble ahead to be uniformly sliced,
then hurled into sizzling cauldrons.
Back outside we hold greasy napkins of hot freshness
too good to be called potato chips. Bitten,
they collapse on the tongue in a burst of sensation
like gospel music heard live.
As we stand talking, salt and grease
staining the lips of our children,
a delivery truck is loaded,
potatoes processed and sealed in shiny bags,
brand and price stamped on each.
The door slams shut.
We fall silent, watching it
become featureless, consumed
in tightening lines of traffic.