My daughter sits in a classroom with her arm in the air, waving an invisible flag of herself.
If I were to be watching her from the hallway, obstructing the bustle of teachers in tight black pants and thin painted mouths, it would be painful, so I wait until the last possible minute to enter the building. I can see it anyway, in the window of my imagination.
The children around her are shiny, like this year's pennies, and I wonder how they got that way. I grew up feeling like I entered the world through a second-hand store, like I had never been new.
I take my time getting to the school. In the beginning I never saw mothers, and now that school has started they emerge like butterflies whose wings have been removed.
Their younger children toddle far behind, noses running, and I want to pat their heads, but I know that I shouldn't, so I don't. I can't catch up with these mothers, so I walk slowly, taking my part in a parade of duty. My head down, I too feel like I want to be flying.
A boy steps off a school bus and disappears into the shambles of his home, like a cloud swallowed up by the sun. A man passing me shouts at his grandson in a language that I don't understand and I turn and watch them fall away.
Sasha is beside me now, and the wind is whistling in my ears so that I can barely hear her speak. She is telling me about who the helper of the day was. What I want to tell her is that it's all bullshit, but I listen, looking at the vacant lot beside us.
"That fence couldn't keep us out," she says, and I am stunned because I am thinking the same thing. I tell her this and she is pleased. She licks the ice cream that I bought her at the corner store, and skips ahead.
I run my fingers over the chainlink fence separating me from the concrete and weeds, thinking about how crawling over it with my daughter, who has the dark dark eyes of a priestess. We would kick the garbage to one side, and take our rightful places on the ground, on the earth, which belongs to all of us.