By Marco A. Vasquez
When you consider the science, it makes sense, and I am sure William Rankine had more than a ball at the top of a hill in mind when he scribbled down some numbers into an equation and realized it–potential energy–like the potential I’ve realized within you, the electrons bouncing around inside of you like the search lights we saw in the distance, as zigzagging beams on the low clouds, and you followed them with your eyes, and I was sure you had discovered the patterns as they became predictable, but it was time for bed, and I was positive those lights were advertising the grand opening of a brand new strip club in a more industrial part of town, but you didn’t need to know that, so I gave you a few more seconds to affirm that the pattern you were regarding was true;
it is the same potential that must be there when you are lying on your belly, playing with your pile of dinosaurs, that fantastic innocence that allows you to snarl like your tiny raptors, chasing action figures until they are pounced upon, and, the way you speak of these creatures, I’m sure that when you blew out the candles on your brachiosaurus birthday cake you wished for nothing more than for dinosaurs to reanimate, and I wouldn’t dare squash this by suggesting that your wish would only create chaos and death and a path of destruction, and how the military would have to get involved, and I can only imagine all the smelly protesters and the higher taxes–both state and federal–so instead I foster these thoughts by helping you search the hillside for mosquitoes stuck in amber;
and the potential that was there when you dug that hole with my gardening trowel so that you could play with your tractors, rumbling through your pursed lips, the perspiration sticking your hair to your forehead like stalactites, beneath one of those floppy hats that your mom insists you wear, and I couldn’t just push you away when I noticed the thick root at the bottom of that hole, that forced me to look back at the long crack that runs the length of our concrete patio, opposite of which is the cracked cinderblock wall that separates us from our neighbors and their goddamned fichus tree, nor could I mention the stern letter that would declare a lawsuit I was formulating in my head, rather I poured a little water into the hole and watched as you sought to rectify this sudden flood with your diggers and dozers;
and the potential that is there when you sit in the yard with your sad, pouting face after you get punished because your teacher emails your mom saying that you refuse to conform to the rules–but don’t tell your mom that I am secretly proud of this, especially when the rules encourage five year olds to sit down and shut up–and so I extend my hands to you and ask you if you want me to spin you around, and you grin and grab my arms at the wrists–your grip a mere formality–and I grab your forearms, and we spin, your feet flailing a bit at first, but momentum carries you, and I could swear there is lead in your shoes, and already your potential energy is revealing itself as kinetic–your joules off the charts–and for a few seconds, it’s just your eyes and mine, and the world around is a blurry swirl, the sound of the breeze rustling the waxy eucalyptus leaves is like applause just for you, and I refuse to stop, although in my head I’m thinking about the possibility of dislocating your shoulders, and a trip to the ER, and co-payments, and a possible visit from a social worker, but I don’t mention this because your incessant laughter tells me that, for now, you just want me to continue this spin, but I am certain that, with all of this dizzying inertia, if I were to let go–and eventually I will have to–you will soar.