Leaning against the schoolyard fence
during recess.
Two older guys, fifth graders I think,
confront me.
“You a Jew, or what?”
“Protestant,” I reply as rehearsed.
They stare,
and walk away.

“Ya get yer Christmas tree yet?”
“Not yet.”

Walking home from school
with Joey Rodriguez and his mom.
She wants to stop at her church
and light a candle.
She dips her fingers in holy water
and makes the sign.
Joey does the same.
They turn and wait
as I follow.
I flick the water off my fingers
just before it burns.

When my classmates file out
for “religious instruction”
every Wednesday afternoon,
Laura and I are left alone.
She remains in her assigned seat
on the other side of the room.
Our teacher ignores us.
What did we do wrong?

When the class stands to sing
Christmas carols,
I mouth the words.