The Burning Sidewalk

By Sally Morem

I set my foot upon the ancient crumbling path
Sun’s rays slicing through clear summer air
Baking the sidewalk into brilliant white

How long ago at the age of five
I first set foot on a print purposefully made
By a child years earlier in freshly laid cement

My toes discovered room to spare
The child had been older than I
When hardening cement was so rudely marred

Runes carved alongside print
Numbers, I thought
I could not read

Seven years later I eagerly raced for the sidewalk
Again, the print held my gaze
I placed my foot upon the mark

It seemed much smaller
I read the scratcings
M.R. –1939

The child had been my mother’s age
Back before the world war
I tried to stretch my mind

I tried to encompass the distance
The years
I did not succeed

The tiny memorial to childhood
Is now unreadable decades later
The crumbling, pitted, cracked, sunsoaked sidewalk

Returned its elements to the earth
Gravel and sand separate
Slivers of immortality lie broken in what remains

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