Joanne Godley

Our backyard is an earthen vessel; a plain brown urn that holds
Family secrets for the entire neighborhood, we watch
While Clint rides his bike in front of the closed two-car garage door
Every few seconds, he passes under the basketball hoop,
Screeches the tires so sparks fly, does Bronco-wheelies, and
Sadly, we’ve all heard Clint’s mother’s relentless rant––
About wishing she’d married the doctor instead of the artist and
Clint never talks about his parents splitting up or leaving, but
Steam whistles from his ears if you even mention his mom
Called him, in her growly voice, for dinner, yesterday evening, and
He rode that bike right up the front steps because he’s glued to it
Was a feat, ‘tho hard to imagine, him riding a bike into bed, yet
We are all too self-centered to worry, care, or even think about
Subjects like love or marriage and if either topic arises, then
The lilac bush at the back of the yard serenades us
With a scent that energizes instead of intoxicates and
We whoop and holler on the ground-down grass
Playing cowboys versus cowboys
Because none of us Black kids care to play the Indians’ part,
But we don’t yet know

Joanne Godley lives in Alexandria where she writes poetry and prose and gardens aeroponically. She is a physician, now practicing virtually. Her poetry has been published in the Bellevue Literary Review, Mantis, Kosmos, among others. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart prize. Her chapbook, Picking Scabs from the Body History, was published in 2020.

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