by Elizabeth Oxley
The kids in the house down the block
were allowed to play only religious music,
which meant that whenever their parents left,
they switched the radio to classic rock.
I was there when they sifted through static
for a guiding voice. Three blocks away,
the creek unwound its brown ribbon. Buggies
and cars parked at the general store,
drivers hungry for ham and Velvet cheese.
Back then, our hair was frosted with Aqua Net.
We knew the little ditty about Jack and Diane
and ate ice cream at the Tastee-Freez.
Boys wore bandanas, girls rolled their pants.
Over the radio, Michael Jackson swore
the kid wasn't his son while every Sunday
the preacher tried to sell us someone else's.
When parents returned, the kids switched off
the radio and asked me to stay for supper.
That was the way of things—neighbors
calling each other, offering what was needed.
Spats and squabbles never stopped us
from rising up to swing the screen door
open— open— open. We heard cricket song.
Back then, we heard the call to alms.
From After April Rain, available
for purchase from Longship Press
Listen to the recording at Voetica.com