Being made to drink vinegar from a sponge,
that part was true. And feeling bad for the lepers.
Being a Cub Scout with a glue gun
in a paneled den, one jar of silver glitter,
one of blue. My wings then—with duct tape
I strapped them down, near the backstop
I rolled in the dust to muss them.
The cave’s mouth glowed gold but
I missed it, I was tucked in, my brain
was filled to bursting with the TV listings.
I rode a red bike with a warning bell,
I stood in the lunch line while a hole
was punched in my milk ticket. Ducks
vanished into the mist upon the wading pool—
some sorcery, some hopefulness. I lowered
my head to accept the canvas bag
of newspapers, I crossed the creaky footbridge
to Bill O’Meara’s house, a pale pink light
on everything. No scribe for all that then.
A hurt squirrel pulled its bulk across the grass,
I placed my hand upon it, I washed right after.
That was not I among the reeds. I was
with the others on the patio playing Parcheesi,
I was slouched in the back of the school bus,
thumbing the transistor’s volume knob.
I wore the satiny green trunks of our team.
—Chris Forhan (Marion County)
This poem is from Black Leapt In (Barrow Street, 2009). Chris Forhan, born and raised in Seattle, Washington, is the author of three books of poetry: Black Leapt In, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize; The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars, winner of the Morse Poetry Prize and a Washington State Book Award; and Forgive Us Our Happiness, winner of the Bakeless Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, Ploughshares, New England Review, Parnassus, and other magazines, as well as in The Best American Poetry, and he has won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes. He lives with his wife, the poet Alessandra Lynch, and their two sons, Milo and Oliver, in Indianapolis, where he teaches at Butler University.