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Talk about rash, T— said. She loved playing characters. My favorite was named Adult—she slurped water from the faded 70s groovy green cup with her pinky up, raised her eyebrows, turned up her nose, pursed her lips, and said MMMMMmmm COFFee!!!!!!

At sunset she transformed into a four-legged monster, imposing terror on the cabin. The other girls loved it. We ignored quiet hours, let them squeal late into the night.

Braces and beautiful ringlets. She’d wander off during gardening or fishing to sit by herself and read.


We often lied about what time it was and ways we should treat people we don’t like. Ty always saw through the lies, even if she couldn’t get her truth out fully.


Dramatic all the time, loud in her facial expressions and interactions with others and meltdowns and victories—it was invigorating to be around someone so full. A small girl with short braids and teeth that gapped all the way around.

Once started absolutely wailing when, while hula-hooping, she hit Bella in the stomach. I sat with her in the leaf brush up on the hill while she cried and cried and I made her drink water and breathe (Bella was very fine). Also got upset when in the courtroom era of cabin politics, everyone accused and actually put her on trial for stealing Maggie's candy when she said she didn’t. I believed her. She curled on her bottom bunk with a sheet over her head until I coaxed her out. That happened a lot in the mornings, a devastating sadness and a sheet over the head. Such a sensitive sense of justice.

On the way out of camp, I walked with her as she carried armfuls of art projects down the hill to the bus. She told me she was going to change her name:

And what is your new name going to be?

You’ll have to guess.

I’ll just call your mom and ask.

Nope, she can’t tell you.

Why not?

I’m only telling Mother Nature so you’ll have to ask the singing ants and the face in the log by the frog pond or the other tree people we've been seeing.

Have I been seeing?


Stuck a coffee stirring straw through dining hall nectarines and sucked the flesh out because she preferred her meals "wormy." Weird fucking kid.





Kiara mashed together the four dark colors of Play-Doh she’d been forming into an ant,

pulled her sweatshirt from her wet upper lip,

left the safe shade of the art pavilion,

and strode to the edge of the rec field,

a prairie of chewed popsicles sticks, lost water bottles, frayed friendship bracelets.

Wading through a wall of gnats,

she squatted and reached into the switchgrass that guarded the field

from the wild forest

from the highway and Shell station and everybody else in the world

to scepter a small yellow flower

That’s lovely, Kiara, please, can you come back and finish your insect model?

She plucked a strand of grass

looped it around her finger,

dangling antennae ends

I am finishing it

I heard her then—

as I moved from the pavilion into the pulsing sun

eager to bring her back—

the tuning of fuzzy leaves to her frequency

the hush of wind over an ecotone audience

the pluck of her fingers on the petiole

Come listen

She folded a mullein leaf and held it to my ear,

strumming Velcro music,

some melody I’d heard before

There’s these weeds outside my building, too


Emma Irving (she/her) is a Pennsylvanian writer and editor. The work of her life has been keeping journals, but she's written professionally for newspapers, universities, and private clients for money work. She's also edited three Green Writers Press books and currently edits poetry for The Hopper. She makes her home among the mushroom houses of southeastern PA, journaling adventurous dreams, or on the road, writing about how great being home is. (IG: @emmaRirving)

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