Skipping Rope and Laughing

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I don’t what them to see me,

beneath our side porch – peeking
hiding when they skip rope –
hiding as they played beneath a
maple tree – and the big girl, she
stares, talks too much and points –
she never knew I wiped tears
away – I was taught never to hurt
those who hurt you – that was
after I beat a friend beneath a
blanket in our yard, but it was the
blanket, not the friend.

The big one is staring.
So what if she’s bigger – she lives
right across the street; still stares
from beneath her maple tree, at me
crouched beneath green painted steps.
It was normal for me to take in
the world – what others did, when
or why… until the sky filled with
clouds – a sun disappeared, large
drops of rain, cried with me. . .

All the sidewalks where children played
quickly cleared  – as children
ran pulling onto each other’s arm –
walk faster, faster they yelled.

I stared toward the clouds
a sky now a tinge of green. Still the
big girl yelled across the street,
“you better run – a tornado is coming
this way…” 

I was petrified in storms, when trees
kissed each other, streets emptied,
phones stopped working, and children
like me ran for cover in basements.

 Last week, a tornado  tore roofs from houses,
turned stores and homes – twisted like licorice,
barely missed Daddy on the golf course –
I hid inside a cement structure where a tiny
window let in light, where fat women cooked
pizza, or fried dough – at Northside Little League. . .

I yelled across the street to the kids
who never played with me – to get
away from the maple tree – and they
laughed. Thought I was telling them
a fib –

 A single cloud became a funnel as it
grew dark like night – then the children
scattered – Watching through my screen
door, my body sank to the floor… you
see the basement was dark and no
one was home but Grandmother who
prayed through storms. 

Mother and Father they were out
shopping, and what if the wind twisted
the store around? 

I called information –
asked for a number where they could
be reached, dialed it and asked to
talk to my parents. . .
I heard their names repeated over
and over – then my

Mother’s voice – “what’s wrong?” 

I mentioned the cloud, and all the
kids running inside – and Grandmother
she was alone – “don’t worry there
isn’t a storm heading this way, you
don’t have to hide.” 

Well – I never did tell them
about the big girl who laughed – skipped
rope under the maple tree –
or me, crouched beneath our
green painted steps but it wasn’t too long
after the wind – our street near the
old maple tree twisted like the houses –

fell to the ground. 

Perhaps tomorrow – they will thank me?

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