When I was younger,

I collected potshard stories

about a place where grown-ups lived.

I wondered about it on summer days—

feet had grass-tickled toes and mud-caked heels,

potshards

fingers were perches for butterfly kisses,

ears were homes for the angels’ laughter,

eyes were puddles for shooting stars to land,

lips were promises of bedtime stories and adventure.

People in those places,

pinecone textbooks told me,

had a kind of fluorescent-kissed skin.

They stayed in these

forests of cookie-cutter cubes and cork board canopies

held up by aching metal arms and cold, stilt-like trunks.

Maybe I’ll never grow up;

grown-ups always find what they aren’t searching for,

tucked away in their offices,

happily perpetual acquaintances

used for good mornings and good evenings and good weekends,

then tossed away,

tempered by the cold,

fragile like their hands,

with fingers like spit-shined soldiers clicking across keyboards,

always carefully watched after.

If I never grow up, then perhaps I’ll never find it—

I’ll never wander onto haggard, threadbare gray carpets

in shoes that feel like balloons,

chain myself to a world governed by ticking clocks,

buzzing, humming, whispering machines that steal away the smell of rain;

I can hear myself breathing.

I am afraid;

what if I forget what sunrises feel like

and warmth that floods like late-August storms—

that clears the sleep from my eyes?

That friendship isn’t about holding a cardboard of highlights

as much as it is cleaning off the cobwebs around doors

and exchanging stories with something beautifully old-school,

mumbling in the backdrop of days that leave you tired—

dirty, aching, full of so much life.

Could I forget drawing lines in my palms,

covered in God-knows-what from God-knows-where,

hidden under a noonday sun and azure sky

that have washed away worries with simpler things

like earth beneath nails.

I pray it never washes away—

that I never forget what it feels like

to push past my breaking point

and live,

leaning into the seat of a pickup truck that makes me feel

ten feet taller and smile five feet wider.

Work smells like home,

and you smell filthy,

but all I can taste is victory and dust

kicked up by tires that have tread many miles on unpaved roads

and untilled soil.

I am afraid I might forget how much I need these simple moments—

these lessons I don’t deserve,

but someday I hope I might

claim this land like it claimed me;

my heart is overflowing,

so I’m drawing my line in the sand

with potshards from a place where grown-ups go

and I have visited,

in hands that extend brotherhood, callouses, and push-pin grease.

The dust and grime of the field has flown north,

made its home where it has landed

on my skin, I find new islands in the uncharted waters

of arms always reaching (often trembling),

only now arriving to this conclusion:

one day I plan to lose myself

in a forest that never stops reaching for its creator

with gnarled fingers that hold up the sky by day,

but let darkness fall by night

and follow the path of stars instead,

veiled elsewhere by spotlights that never reach them.

A forest never stops growing, giving;

it forgives the rain for its faithlessness,

and man for his forgetfulness.

It has a ceiling that leaks;

it isn’t safe,

but it smells suspiciously like home.

These potshard stories have their cracks,

and as I clamber through them,

I know I love this place

where the artist-in-residence created the universe

and mud pies.