Two girls, one on either side of the street,
bulging canvas bags clinging to their backs
and slim shoulders. They might be sisters,
both with wavy brown hair, or only friends.
Acquaintances from school, one in fifth grade,
one in eighth. They could be strangers.
They know this route well, I can tell by how
they barely turn their heads to see the houses,
how they walk through the yards with purpose
and boredom, both. How old do we have to be
before we can complete a task absentmindedly.
Are we born with this ability, or do we teach
it to ourselves when life is long, when we are
young, when we eat what we dislike and plod
down hallways, going where we are instructed.
The girls reach into their bags, pull out a paper
rolled inside its thin plastic bag. They snap
their wrists, and each newspaper lands with
a crisp thud, the sound a strong fist makes
in movies punching someone weak and mean,
knuckles rapping cheekbones like front doors.