City Park, Denver

Today is the third day of protests in Denver.

City Park, Denver

City Park is busy. There are families picnicking on the grass and people walking their dogs and toddlers before dinner. A little boy puts his toy boat into the lake, his brown hands checking the connection of the sail to the mast. He turns to his mom, “Okay to put it in now, Mom?” She pushes her blonde hair out of her face and smiles, maybe a little tired, “It’s okay now, buddy.”

A couple sits down under the tree next to mine. Both white haired and blue masked. He has music playing from this phone. The screen is cracked but the sound is clear. Wise men say only fools rush in

The paddleboat rental is open and swan boats the size of a 1960 Beetle cabriolet drift across the water. The people powering them puff as they pedal. Maybe coronavirus can’t live inside swans. Shall I stay would it be a sin?

A family of seven talks to the man renting the swans. The oldest child translates for his father. They look like they’ve just come from a marriage or a funeral. The little girls’ hair is braided tight and the little boy has on shoes so clean it must be on purpose. (Well, my children’s shoes are only that clean when they are stepping into a wedding or a wake.) The family turns away after a bit. Maybe they can’t afford the rental fee, it’s expensive for a large family at $11 an hour per adult and $6 per child. I can treat them if I charge it, so I get up to pay for their hour. But then, the boat only holds five. It says that right above the price per hour. So maybe, on this day of celebration or mourning, they just don’t want to be apart. The kids are still smiling. Who am I to make them take a ride they already decided they didn’t want. I sit back down. Like a river flows surely to the sea

The family walks past by two women holding hands, one tall, one short, one tattooed, one not. The tall one pulls her arm away from the tattooed one and waves sharply,

“Hi! Hello! You look beautiful. Who has a phone so I can take a family photo?”

I’m still sitting and I feel ashamed. I am going to learn to wave more sharply. Darling so it goes, some things are meant to be

Today is the third day of protests in Denver. Helicopters fly over us to film downtown. I was downtown earlier today and will take my children downtown tomorrow. Many of the people laying out in the park are using their protest signs as shields against the goose poop. I think they’ll go downtown tomorrow too. Maybe with fresh signs. There’s a curfew tonight. We all need to be in by 8pm. The curfew is to stop the people — anarchists, antifa, the alt-right — who are trying to take over the protest. It is not to stop protest itself. I hope. Take my hand, take my whole life too

A woman in a wheelchair rolls past me. She’s got an African American flag on one side and a RIP George Floyd sign on the other. We smile at each other.

Ah, the family was celebrating. A graduation! The graduate is here now, in her silky robe with braids as tight as her sisters’. Her mother is crying. The tall woman waves sharply again, “Can I take another picture for you?” She can.

A girl weaves through the family photo taking. They back away to let her through and then move back together once she’s past. She’s got a red hat on, backwards. Close cropped hair, probably strawberry blonde through the dirt. Barefooted and wrapped in a sheet, she sings, “I’ve got a polygamous passion and Jesus wanted me to use my passion well but I used it ill and so I will be used ill and what can I say I’m good at being fucked by everyone and Jesus knows it too.” She might be fifteen. I don’t know who to call. Who will help her and who will hurt her? She walks past me and I do not wave sharply. For I can’t help -

There’s a police officer by the paddleboat rental and I walk over, “Excuse me, sir. There’s a girl -”

“I know that’s why I’m here. Where did she go?”

“Are you going to help her? You’re not going to hurt her? If she stays in this park I think she’ll get hurt. But I can’t show someone where she is if they’re going to hurt her. Do you know what I mean, do you see what I’m saying?”

For I can’t help -

Another helicopter flew over and I can’t tell if he is smirking or smiling because he’s wearing a mask.

“Ma’am, which way did she go? I’ll get her the help she needs.”

For I can’t help falling

And so I show him,

“She’s someone’s daughter and she’s already been harmed, probably by that someone.”

I say it to his back because he is getting in his truck. He pulls away quickly, and I imagine how those trucks wheels will sound to someone with exposed feet.

in love with you.