THE MYSTERY BOY
On the scooter in the rain,
Shirt turned inside out to protect the patches,
You circle still in the heavy patter,
The downpour on the supermarket parking lot
Where headlights turn round, over tracks of wheels
Bored with the food drive,
With soliciting from shoppers not there,
You left the other Scouts
Only to orbit back to us as wet as a wet dog.
I’ve watched you bully,
Bumping bike tires with boys in your way,
Grabbing a cap off another’s head,
Wrestling when you knew you could win.
Only in a room with all of us there,
With each boy, one after another,
In rows at the tables,
Did we find anything at all.
We had to keep calling you back
At the last campground,
For you had found another,
A similar soul, across the way,
Who snarled and snapped
So the story was told,
Of a boy bullied, who stole money
To pass it out at school,
Who stole again
And dreamed of what he might buy.
And the older ones hazed you,
Sent you across the camp for a smoke shifter,
Till I intervened,
And all the grabbed and jabbed younger boys
Spent an hour searching in the dark
Before finding you asleep in their tent,
You were not unloved,
In the room where parents cry out,
Though we would be quick to deny
That it might happen to us.
It was wrapped in a towel,
Held beneath a pillow,
The father gone to the graveyard shift,
The mother fast asleep,
They didn’t find you until morning,
Tucked in your wet bed.
This is a felon,
Some mother scolded,
To guns and bullets,
He was only a boy.
He was known to grin,
The way boys grin when they forget themselves,
His glasses slipping down his nose,
When he realized my offer to tie his shoes,
Meant I was going to tie his feet together.
And he sidled away, smarter than I.