Under the Tulip Tree

We were too young to cherish how
the shade lulled us to sleep when
we were wrapped in a blanket
of summertime heat. “Home base”
was under the tulip tree, where
the kaleidoscope of greens nourished us
more than any lunch lady ever could. We
would spin round and round until we
all fell down, looking up at those emerald
leaves with the smell of sunscreen
and sandalwood all around us.
Someone would bring their handful of mud
to show and tell in the shade of the tulip tree,
worms wriggling within, finding
the coolness calming. Inevitably it left
sticky remnants that our mothers learned
to love just as much as us. The sun would set,
and the tulip tree’s shade would sneak out,
tip-toeing into the field. The warmth
would subside and we’d fight the weight
of our eyelids just to watch the fireflies.
And although we wanted to go catch a few,
running wild until we panted like dogs
And tasted the salt of our sweat, we would stay under
the tulip tree because it felt like sitting in mother’s lap
as we were being lulled back into our summertime sleep.