Poland, 1939

We'll round up mushrooms from the forest and toss them in the straw-woven basket and then we'll curl

our toes around the coarse bark of a tree and swing from

it with the spindly rope stiff with dried mud we found in the

barn behind the house. We'll chew on grass and

make it whistle and then we'll clasp hands and

twirl around on the lichen-covered floor,

running away from the insects that emerge.

When the mosquitoes begin whispering into

our ears we'll walk to the field and sit

against the lone sycamore amid the towering grasses.

We'll watch the pulses of light from the

grenades and bombs illuminating the evening

sky and we'll listen to the distant echoes

of gunshots from the city. We'll talk about what they

say, how every time the bombs go off, more children come,

more parents are lost, how despair becomes indisputable.

Later, when silence caresses our hair and

the debris and ashes blanket the field,

I'll hook my fingers into the holes of your brown shirt

and we'll walk for eternity until we reach

the decrepit house with the gaping front door where

bombs puncture the earth, and children disappear from their beds.

We'll trip over the graves tomorrow.

Junior Rachel Howard, 16, lives in Haddonfield.