Many small children have taken to hiding
along the stream. Or in swamps. They dive.
They disappear for months. Longer.
It’s not like skipping school. They study
flagella, muskrats. They collect wetland grasses
and press them. There is always paper.
They are so poor they have little hair
and bare feet. There is never a trail
of crumbs or plastic or size 5 shoe-prints.
We miss them, but they have each other.
And something else. We’re not sure
if they’ve made reed flutes or if they hum.
Janet Kauffman grew up on a tobacco farm in Pennsylvania. She lives in Michigan, where she taught writing and mixed media at Eastern Michigan University for many years. She has published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including, most recently, Five on Fiction (Burning Deck Press), a collection of prose poems, and Trespassing: Dirt Stories and Field Notes (Wayne State University Press), a book containing half stories and half essays on the factory farm crisis in her watershed.