Plain China

Childhood Sketch

by David Zumwalt · Saint Mary’s College of California
"Beach", Jacob Roosa · Oberlin College

Two bicycles, one twisted and its back wheel spinning crazily;

one boy limps, the right half of his body

 

supported by the other’s hip; we grow up separately and unavoidably

flawed, in the way a tomato plant

 

will bend in the rain until the main stalk snaps

and small black ants emerge from the ground to consume its mess.

 

The limping boy’s knees are torn to bits.

Scraps of gravel cling to the insides of his cuts.

 

The other boy (and he is “other”) spots a hose lying unmanned

on a nearby lawn. By tracing the hose to its source,

 

he cleans the gravel off. This is what love is.

Cleaning up after other people. Neither of the boys

 

knows this yet, or would find it particularly interesting.

It’s summer. The bicycle is smashed. One boy will implode without the other.

About the Author

David Zumwalt · Saint Mary’s College of California

David Zumwalt was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Journalism and English and American Literature. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of California.

About the Artist

Jacob Roosa · Oberlin College

Jacob Roosa is a fourth year Art History major focusing on Medieval art and architecture. His work is mostly in collage, book arts, woodworking, and architectural design. "Beach" first appeared in Plum Creek Review.