Since my father’s house burned, I return
to the neighborhood in dreams, where
it’s always night, in summer. I play hide
and seek with the big boys, no match
for their long legs and easy reach.
There, I’m always tagged, then “it.”
In my childhood, Billy Hackmack,
tallest big boy, crumpled his long arms
and legs down behind the fire hydrant.
Right in front of the lamppost—home base—
he disappeared! After the count,
when “it” crept toward Manasky’s
hydrangea or Goldman’s hedges,
Hackmack leapt from the hydrant
to the lamppost. Home safe. Always.
Now, I count and turn to an empty street.
When I look for Billy in the shadows
behind the hydrant, he’s gone. Gone.