peculiar children

My cousin Doug and I
on the streets of Daytona,
Florida: he’s artistic,

hands me a deflated, red
balloon without a word and
takes out the camera- I

haunt dark streets
pinning his look to my
white, Keds with dirt/ later,

we scream in the attic
because we think there are ghosts

and he films it all, the way
I run out of the house and through
the surrounding woods like

something still chases
(he can keep up)

then we bang out some Hitchcockian
melody on the piano as our overture.

When it is too hot

sometimes he plays his guitar
in the room my mother grew up in
where all the family claims

an old man died terribly

who hid the liquor beneath the bed
and tripped down the spiral staircase
drunk, into the sunny kitchen.

And many mornings more, my grandmother
who still cooks three full meals a day
makes me cantaloupe with sugar on top

or cheesy grits, before I help her
by snapping the peas for dinner that night
or watch in anticipation if she is making

peach cobbler. My cousin was the first
of peculiar children I learned to see

why growing up in this family
when ways are strange and
strangers are friends

who could take us away.
We     like     black roses
though and sketched

constellations of our own in
the night before there
were words

so we could see, so we could speak.

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