My white sneaker tips fall

                   across the long ragged road I throw my hair back

pretend indifference keep going far from

                   school I stop to feel the rough bark of a tree

make sure no one has followed breathe

                   two blocks from home they jump out from

behind a garage my bright green lunchbox one

                   two three four hope

a grownup appears to water the lawn pick

                   pink roses will send the kids away today no one

comes out the sky rises opaque blue no

                   rain rain is safer the boy with thick black

hair and the prettiest eyes I have ever seen

                   pushes me backwards he pushes hard I

land in mud cold damp seeping through

                   my socks they all laugh I don’t

move staring at the wild blossom of green

                   shoots in the sugar maple I count

leaves two three four five serene noble

                   this tree stands witness teetering to one side

like my grandmother from Russia whose gnarled

                   hands reach for my face eight nine ten eleven

the names they call me Stupid Ugly Selfish Dirty

                   Jew Pig tell them you’re a child of God I don’t

move until I’m certain they’re gone

                   when I rise up the blood from my knee

trickles down my ankle my shoulder aches

                   my legs shake I run home

to an empty stillness I draw a bath

                   then scrub at dirt that’s not there