Wishing for Friends from Childhood
by Walt McDonald

    Her stepfather bored a hole in the wall
    to watch her. Lara told my cousin,
    who told me. With Earl and Billy Joe
    and me, she picked at her bread

    and fed the sparrows, like peeling petals
    off daisies, He loves me, loves me not.
    Billy Joe swore he would find a gun.
    Ours was a boom town after World War Two,

    oil pumps on every block. Roughnecks
    like Lara's real daddy worked overtime
    and left, following some maverick oil man
    demanding hands. Earl found a rod

    and said Let's break his legs.
    Lara at twelve did nothing, a girl
    who looked older than my sister. Once,
    Lara's workbook closed, Sunday School

    no home for girls in trouble
    with only boys like us to bluff
    and wonder what to do. Until that month,
    I thought a runaway was a train in westerns.

    I thought daddies only spanked us hard,
    that girls were massively attractive
    but somehow holy. I'd heard of outlaws
    but only in movies, spurs jingling,

    slapping rouged girls without a past,
    nothing to do in the saloon
    but stand around pouting in ruffles
    and watch cowboys play cards.

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