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Frank C. Modica

My brother and I walk to a park

after watching a cartoon about

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

rafting on the Mississippi River.

We never dream about rafting

the sludgy Chicago River that winds its way

past oily factories and the Union Stock Yards

north and west of our home; instead, we paint

the white clouds overhead with our fingers.

We think we know the language of clouds—

nimbus, stratus, cirrus;

like we know the names of birds

we learned in kindergarten;

cardinal, blue jay, robin red breast,

like the names and colors of flowers

Mom showed us in picture books;

red roses, purple orchids, orange marigolds.

The clouds look like brilliant birds and flowers today.

Mike and I imagine flight and color and life in them

as we jump over the sprawling cracks in the sidewalks,

as we pick bright yellow dandelions

from overgrown yards, knitting

them into Mother’s Day bouquets.

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