Swarm; Leaving the Nonprofit Immigration Lawyer’s Office

Janine Joseph

Swarm

So many weeks the beagles barked
              at the buzz coming from the mulberry.

Then, it was gone. I stared at the leaves
              and grass and long driveway, but not one

wing, drone, or honeycomb was left
              in our acre of land. And when I ran

the bases the next day, the lunch bell rang
              and I had this feeling. Call it a bark

and call me a foreclosed house with a gate left
              open. On my turn to pitch the mulberry

kickball, I swore I saw tri-colored coats, one
              after the other, on the street like leaves.

In no way could the beagles leave,
              pulled out of their collars, but I still ran

to the chain link with the kickball score one—
              zero. The yard duties whistled and barked

and I sprinted until I crushed mulberries
              under my sneakers. Nothing was left.

My brothers had left and my father had left
              and my mother, seven times, came and left

until the ashes of seven beagles were buried
              in tins under the largest tree. She ran

the hose until the ground was muddy and the bark
              splashed with fruit. Then she was gone.

Countdown on the clock: three . . . two . . . one
              and I was upright, chair tossed left,

and my mouth, widened, was a wet bark.
              Out the classroom I chased my leaf-

thin shadow into the kickball field as if running
              out of the country. My pant legs burry

with foxtail snags and my shoes a mulled
              mess. I had lost everything, and one

by one the yard duties emerged, ran
              with their pea whistles, right, and then left,

calling Joseph! at my heels. I climbed to leave,
              I scaled the fence and there was barking.

I ran until it was clear and put my hand on the bark
              of a mulberry tree. Again to hear our name leave
the mouths of others as if no one disappeared.

Leaving the Nonprofit Immigration
Lawyer’s Office

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