It was a tree that
sprouted strange leaves, curious
aromas of oranges
adjacent to the playground.
Kicking up gravel, we would
dash past the slide and the monkey bars,
rocks becoming lodged in our sneakers.
We’d scale the relatively
small tree to harvest only the greenest and
brightest leaves, our citrusy
shoes scratching against shedding
bark, nails gathering
dirt, hands outstretched towards
our chosen leaf.
We’d use wild onion grass
to tie the bouquets together,
giving them to our teacher.
We would store the best leaves
The next day they would be
shriveled, no longer smelling
like citrus fruit. They had
fallen victim to the civilization
of worms that
we blamed for eating the leaves,
spoiling everything for everyone.