The boy who has been gone for a week
approaches his mother at the curb
outside the school. Did you have fun?
she asks, and he gives her a lopsided
smile that doesn’t even pretend to be cool.
His cheeks are sunburned and his hair
is sun drenched and his shoes are mismatched
and dusty. He is happy. Oh yes, mom, he says,
and he falls in her arms and she holds up
his tired weight. It is August and the leaves
have already begun to yellow on the hill.
He tells her of herons, how they flew at sunset,
their wings backlit and shining. Then he reaches
in his backpack to pull out a rock, a gray flint
in the shape of a heart. He slips it in her hand
and doesn’t move to leave her. They stand
on the curb long after all the other campers
have left with their families. All around them,
the scent of rain about to come, the sound
of men with their hammers building