Angela Allen

Adrian is getting shoulders.
He is scarcely brown
with several races mixed
into his exquisite skin.
I’m teaching his class simile
so they can get a leg up.

My grandfather’s feet are like…?
“Like messed–up,” Adrian shouts,
and I say, “a noun, not an adjective,”
then switch to my father’s voice is like?
and a girl says “Loud, like an old motor?”
when Adrian motions me to his desk.

“What if you don’t have a dad?” he asks.
“Use your grandfather.”
“What if you don’t have one of those?”
“How about an uncle?” “Or an uncle,” he says.
I sigh and walk away. Adrian will do
anything not to write in class.

He fails to focus, some teachers say,
who send him from the classroom
almost every day.

I see Adrian in the hall as I leave.
He’s on the move, his left fist up,
chin tucked in, toes dragging like a pro.
His voice lowers every week,
an engine idling, ready to go,
and I ask, “Adrian, do you not have a dad?”
He holds up two fingers, the peace sign,
while a wicked grin spreads across his face.
“I got two dads. Two,”
and swaggers on, punching the air.