Act I


It feels like yesterday we were building civilization. 


We sat hunched over by the tiny creek, 

moving stones 

and forming lakes like gods. 


We strolled along our length of creek 

by where the mouth of it came out

from under the road 


and ripped ragweed stalks 

from the dry bank. 


We took such pride in our home 

made of sticks and leaves, 


our slide made of packed dirt,


and our hidden base, 

squirreled away

among the branches 


to protect us 

in case of intruders 

or our mothers 

or sunset. 


Act II


We weren’t the only ones 

spending afternoons at the creek. 


Others claimed their kingdoms too – 

soon enough there was war. 


We walked up the bank 

and out from behind the trees 

they appeared. 


Fifth-grade girls and boys 

with menacing pride 

defended their right 

to share the creek, 

and left warnings for us

in the bruises on our shins.  


Later, I wove stories 

of my bravery 

and my victimhood. 


My limp faded 

as the weeks went by  

and revenge sunk its teeth 

in my daydreams. 


We destroyed their palaces of leaves and bark 

and ran after them 

until they fell, exhausted, 

and we covered them 

in shrouds of ragweed 

to leave them sneezing for weeks. 


We ruled the entire stretch of creek 

from where it trickled to life

up to the place where our mothers 

could no longer keep their eyes on us. 


By Adriana Barker

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