I walk along a wooden perimeter

housing sprouts, toddlers playing

on top of solid stumps, mulched into

suitable substrate.

The sun peeks out

from behind the conifers and

I can almost see a smile.

Emerald blades bend under my shoes

and reality bends under my gaze.

Children swing on bars and

the jungle gym shakes,

they laugh, their white

diapers partially exposed.

Three benches form a triangle

around the play scape.

A woman sits on each one,

watching the children carefully.

Chaperones, I think.

I put on my sunglasses, slick back my hair,

and walk to the first woman with a

devious smile.

She is well dressed,

beautiful and materialistic.

Her legs are up on the bench to rest.

Without saying a word,

she directs me away.

The second woman is the youngest.

Her legs sway childishly.

Naive and playful, she giggles

at a joke I make but still,

she directs me away.

The final woman sits on the third bench.

She looks at me and smiles,

sharing a story with me.

Unlike the other two women,

Her feet are planted firmly on the ground.

She directs me away.

All three women look at each other and laugh

a mocking cackle.

"He's cute!" they say.

I look down to adjust my belt.

I have no belt.

My shoes are untied and I pivot my gaze back forward.

I am eye level with the third bench.

"Go back and play now, Joe."