We pass the graveyard where headstones stamped like cookies lined up on a baking sheet tempt him to stop, look, and sniff, but then he tugs me on. We leave behind the air waiting for prayers, for visitors to smooth crisscrossing paths in the grass, the moss-covered crosses slippery as banana peels.
The sun is breathing yellow everywhere but it feels blue.
Along the way we pass four playgrounds, all but one empty, where my boy races through the sand kicking up joy and trapping it in his fur. This is the witching hour, a dent in the day just before supper, when children squall and mothers, weary from work, work, work, bring their toddlers outside to play, while the ragout stews in the slow cooker, filling the house with relief. Outside, the frying pan sky is burning leaves for dinner.
We aren’t tired yet. My knee, which likes to remind me that it is as fragile as yesterday’s sunset, is silent. I toss a stick: “Go get it!”
Mothers and toddlers are laughing, as easy as rolling cookie dough, their long, black shadows flickering against the leaves in the short light.
At my feet the mutt gurgle-growls, grips the stick urging me to play, so we stay – throwing, chasing, throwing, chasing, throwing. Children whiz down the slides, leaves in streams. More laughing. My boy can’t find the stick, searches for it in the mottled grass. I call and we go home, past the graveyard and three empty playgrounds.
*The Tower of Song by Leonard Cohen