He seemed a stranger Mom let stay with us,
The man with stacks of papers in his car
Who rarely spoke, but wasn't dangerous.
One day he left his study door ajar
And I drop-kicked my half-inflated ball
Into the crack of light he'd left exposed.
The door flew back, crashing against the wall
As if protesting years of staying closed.
He hurried out, his eyes wide as my own.
I stood before him, waiting for his rage.
I couldn't tell him why, playing alone,
I'd broken in and drawn him from his cage.
Rather than roar, he smirked and mouthed my
I shrank away knowing I'd lost the game.
© 2001; originally printed in
The Cumberland Poetry
Review. Reprinted by permission of the