Five laths in a cotton dress
was christened Flossie
and learned how to cry,
her eyes like wet daisies
behind thick glasses.
She was six grades ahead of me
and wore bangs; the big boys
called her “The Martian,”
they snowballed her home,
splashed her with their bicycles,
left horse dung in her coat pockets.
She jerked when anyone spoke to her,
and when I was ten
I caught up with her one day
on the way home from school,
and said, Flossie I really like you
but don’t let the other kids know I told you,
they’d pick on me, but I do like you,
I really do, but don’t tell anybody.
And afterwards I was ashamed
for crying when she cried.