Were we eight or ten the year the Young Boys
Moved in down the street
Fencing stolen stuff in the dark
The catalpas
Bulging out over the sidewalks
Like bouncers at an all-night club
Seed pods littering the lawn
Like gang signals?

By winter, rumor had it
That the kid who’d
Robbed all The Free Press paper boys
In the neighborhood
Was now on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list;

And so I never told anyone
How outside the school one sub-zero morning
He let me warm my hands
Inside his mismatched mittens
While he tried to lick my face
As if I were a Tastee Freeze—me being
The only white girl on the block.

And I never mentioned how he howled—
(Some said like a pregnant cat)
When his tongue froze to the little bridge
Over the canal
And bled onto the snow like graffiti
When he tried to tear it away
Before the hook and ladder men

Nor did I ever mention anything to him, either,
How his fingers not much bigger than mine, really
Had curled so softly around my hand
Just before the entry bell
Buzzed us all into the school
Or how sorry I’d been at the last minute

To have to pull my cold hands
Out of his warm ones
Or how, after he dropped it on the playground,
I put one of the mittens into my pocket
And kept it. And never gave it back.

Alinda Dickinson Wasner’s is published in 30+ small press and online Journals. She has won several prizes including the Chicago Poetry Juried Prize, Cork Ireland Southward International Poetry 2nd Place, a Prague Writer’s fellowship, Vermont Poetry Wilder prize, among others. She was nominated Best of the Net by Up the Staircase.