Corner of Juniper and Fourth
I’m not sure of everything that’s happened here.
Terrel Banister was walking home Charlotte Evans,
she lives over on Fifth street, half block down,
and he planted one as they stood under the streetlamp
that gave Char her first taste of tongue.
My cousin’s schnauzer, Rats, was using the hydrant
at this very spot and a Firebird come swerving
around the corner, left ‘im layin’ flat.
Things like that always seem to happen when you least expect it,
catches you off guard, same as when your kid brother pops up
from behind the couch when you’ve finally made it past first base.
That happened to me once,
only I was the little brother.
Al never did quit harping about it, either.
Always poking my side when he’d bring it up,
jabbing the same ribs that broke when he kicked me.
He knew it still hurt.
Like I was saying, I don’t know what all has
happened at this intersection.
But I do know this.
Doozer and I were standing right here
when that tank rolled by and Dooz,
he salutes the flag flying on top,
held by the gunner.
“I’m joining the army, Scott,” he says,
like I knew it already.
But I didn’t.
I sucked in my gut and got
smacked in the head
with a Tootsie Roll tossed by
some lady dressed up as Betsy Ross.
But I didn’t say nothing.
Now I’m standing on the corner
of Juniper and 4th, again, but
this day I’m holding my son
up to see the floats.
He’s drooling in my hair.
He squeals like a Mustang
taking the turn too quick and grabs my ear.
His untested legs pummel my ribcage, right were it hurts,
then he yells, “Fahwer, fahwer” as
his mother points to the flatbed rolling by
festooned with minature flags and flowered wreaths.
“That’s the float, sweetie,” she says.
“There’s the flag for your Uncle Al.
Can you see it, Doozer?”
In memory of Alfred Dewsberry