In an almost all-white small town
where I grew up, a good friend lived
across the street, she, three years older than I.

I had heard rumors that my friend was involved
with the only black student in our high school
but not about it from her. One fall night, her father

was outside, angry, with a gun, because
the young black man was walking around
our neighborhood trying to see his daughter.

When her mother called to warn us, my mother
began to cry. I turned on the porch light,
unlocked our front door and walked outside,

quietly saying his name. He emerged from behind
maple trees lining the sidewalk. I told him
about her father and the gun. He asked me

to tell my friend that he desperately needed
to see her, then ran away from our houses.
The next morning I gave my friend his message.

She said nothing to me. My mother never
mentioned what I had done. Years later,
hatred and guns still work together.