Our neighborhood was a warzone. And no one would have believed us
out there in the country, what with all that good water and air.
Our parents left the city, so we would be safe.
Though maybe they just settled for safer, at least safer than what was reported on TV.
Your dog got shot with the neighbor’s bb gun,
and he walked with a limp after that.
There were strangers hiding in the woods, when we ducked under the
star rock, we could see them pass through the leaves like monsters.
There was playing chicken, dogging the cars that sped round the bend.
But that danger we created, thumping hearts, panting tongues, slick smiles.
We walked the narrow lane down the only busy street into town,
our mother’s hearts fluttering with caution. Other children had been found dead.
Other children had been found hung. Strung up in the front yard
like they were lynched. Postcards of the hanging.
We stole boats and rowed out into the crater lake.
It had a creature in it. Everyone knew that.
There was the Birdman who would leave his tracks in the snow
by your bedroom window and we stood around it in a circle
You had a stick in your hand and said we were lucky to still be alive.
We didn’t know what he would do when he got us, but it wouldn’t be good.
We made some of these nightmares. Others found us.
Like when the little girl next door was found face down in the pool.
Her hair spread out like little rays of sunlight.
The whole neighborhood migrated then, moving toward the house.
But we sat at the top of tree, our feet swinging, knowing we were invisible.
Years later, the boy who shot your dog, his father got cancer.
Then everyone got cancer. Maybe the water wasn’t so good after all.
He walked down the steps to his basement and he bolted the door behind him.
He laid down on the cool tile and he turned off the light.
They say, it didn’t take long.
20 hours ago