The fierceness of the west Texas sun beat down on us,
our skin red and blistered,
but we seemed not aware as waves of heat washed us through our clothes.
Vickie, Bubba, Janie, Big Junior, Little Junior,
Virginia, Judy, Brenda, Sandy, Janet,
Marsha and me
Everywhere we went, we ran barefoot,
our feet impervious to the rocky ground
where there should have been grass but was none.
We trekked across town to dip our feet in a hotel pool.
None of us could swim, but that didn’t matter.
The hotel manager chased us away,
so we didn’t have a chance to drown
We dared each other to climb to the top of our grandparent’s house and jump.
It was a small house and the jump wouldn’t be far.
We spread our wings and flew.
Marsha and I lived in that house with our mother and grandparents
We had no father, but we didn’t need one.
Vickie, Bubba, Janie, Virginia and Little Junior lived with us that summer
We slept in two beds; older kids in one bed; younger kids in another
There was no air conditioning and open windows offered almost no relief from the heat.
Still, we slept. And when morning light nudged us awake,
it didn’t matter that we woke smelling of each other’s sweat.
We were too young to notice. We were too close to care.
Sometimes, now, when the north Texas sun falls in raindrops on my face
I see the sweet, happy faces of cousins shrieking and running about,
and I am saddened that I do not know them