Fox River Kings

It happened in an afternoon:
Ladders, nails and beer breaks.
Dad even gave me a swig
as a reward for my hard work
and I promised not to tell.

I gave Billy, Ben and John
the password
to enter the fortress
with no half moon hammer dents
embraced by limbs and branches.

We were kings up there
watching heads pass below
and the neighbor girl lather baby oil on her legs,
sitting in a lawn chair
in one of the many backyards
facing the same way.

We stole cigarettes
and blew smoke into the twinkling leaves.
We were superheroes
who jumped from roof to roof,
scaled down the sides of two story houses,
and slid in windows like a breeze.

At dinnertime
we came home with rope burned,
splintered hands
and dirt behind our ears.
When mom grabbed my head
and came at me with a washcloth
I knew better than to mutter a word.