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.