Little Boy and Tricycle

He was playing on his tricycle,
the little boy, with all that skill and deftness
only known to three-year-olds when
everything went white, he fell, the pedals
spun, he started crying, didn’t stop
until late into evening when he died.
His father summoned all the strength he had
to bury him in the garden he had loved
because (he thought) so small, he would be lonely
for his family, and because so much
was chaos all around then— Iron bridges
buckled, bottles melted out of shape.
And with the small remains he buried too
the tricycle his boy had loved to ride
each morning in the garden, prayed the gods
would let him play with it because (he thought)
him being such a very little boy –
What would be the harm in the Land of Shades?
He never spoke again about the morning
everything went white, endured the pain
for nearly thirty years and then came back
to find the small but neatly-formed frame,
performed the prayers of ritual re-interment
with his ancestors, this time without
the tricycle, rust-encrusted from
its years of travelling the clay, because
(he thought) his spirit now must be as old
as was his father’s that day everything
went white— Because (he thought) the boy, become
now venerable shade, no longer needs it.

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