Gardenland / Eric Orosco

Thin boys dance shirtless under the spray of water from hoses held by their fat mothers while their fathers are away on business down Del Paso, haggling and dealing under the heat of the sun, drops of sweat dripping from brows and collecting at the tips of eyelashes curving upward to an unforgiving sky, and when these fathers walk past fenced off homes and onto bike trails sprouting with weeds and busted shopping carts, they will think of their wives pushing groceries and firstborns home, their bodies swollen with latterborns who will one day wrap their tiny fingers around the grated siding of these carts, a caravan of flesh and sustenance stopping only once at the corner of Northgate to purchase food and beverage that warms the hearts of these children, eager hands reaching out for more and once home they will sleep in rooms where the AC hums and the background noise of late night cartoons cradle them, the hours between now and morning growing closer like youthful bodies discovering that they too are aging, bodies calling for others the way their shirtless fathers and child-bearing mothers called for each other, and a male youth will take a female youth to the back of his family’s property near the treehouse his father half-built for him and under its rotting wood he will enter her, his eyes moving over the piles of salvaged furniture warped and caked with dirt that litter his yard where he used to run shirtless under the spray of water, laughing with his mother who wasn’t really laughing with him but at herself, spraying her face with the hose so that he would not see if she really cried while looking at him, her eyes somber with the knowledge that he too will walk down bike trails, shirtless, under the heat of the sun, his own wife pushing shopping carts strapped with groceries and children and when the male youth thinks about what he sees he’ll push away from the girl, pull a shirt over his sweating body and slap her across the cheek because this is her fault, and they will separate until she returns another night and he takes her again, finishing this time and she walks away with parts of him that will turn into their firstborn, who she will spray with water while he dances shirtless, smiling, on a property that will forever be half-built by fathers who were once little boys lacing fingers around shopping carts, howling like wild beasts for something they have not yet learned.

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