They Come in Summertime
Skinny boys ride bikes to my house,
exhausted, lost, they collapse on my lawn.
Dad doesn’t want them here but they’re here and we stand
five feet apart, just stand in the yard.
I bring them ice cream.
The boys in the yard stretch themselves over grass,
long, terribly long, achingly long,
forever stretched out
with spilled vanilla ice cream
muddying the space between t-shirt and skin.
The boys, made of sinew,
are climbing trees and spitting down.
Count the seconds til the spit hits the grass,
one mississippi, two—
Jack climbs the tallest tree, climbs and climbs.
He’s threadbare and I’m in love with him.
I'm thirteen, and I've never loved anyone more.
He pushes his glasses up his nose and smiles down at me.
Climb higher, Jack, the top branch, the sky loves you, Jack,
the limbs will hold.
I want them to love me like a boy in the yard.
But I’ll never ride my bike through the country alone,
pumping my legs, burning my thighs.
I'll never be the boy climbing my tree.
I’ll never spit down one mississippi, two mississippi, three—
I sit on the grass, run blades between my toes,
I cough up humid sky and
breathe in the sweat of the boys in my yard.
They sit shoulder to shoulder and stare at their shoes.
They have to go.
I say goodbye. They peddle hard up the hill.
I watch until their backs disappear, watch until
I’m the girl in the yard, alone and
Jack doesn’t look back.
He keeps his eyes on the road.