Angela Allen

Two boys in baseball caps outside

The boy around the corner
skips when he walks his dog.
I say, You’re on the run, Jack,
but Jack says it’s Maggie
that’s in a big hurry.
On the slippery edge
of adolescence, this boy
is jumping today
like a basketball forward
as he reels back Maggie to a trot.
He’s 12 — or 11, maybe 13.

The boys across the street
play with plastic guns.
One looks like a bright green uzi,
another is a neon orange pistol.
They push each other
against the dogwood tree
with their weapons, and scream,
“You’re dead!” Their parents
planted a Black Lives Matter sign
in their yard. Boys love guns:
to have and to hold.

The Black boy and the white boy
are sharing something,
probably candy, and
while they chirp like warblers
in the early morning
they toss away the wrapper,
letting it float into the wind.
They climb the hill like giants.
Usually, I’d say, pick up your trash,
but not this time.

The boy, now grown, says each time
he sees a piano he wants
to sit down and play it.
He found notes and chords
before he could read words.
He stretches the white keys,
the black ones, the 7th chords,
the minors and the majors,
as if they were part of his hands,
spreading their harmony