The rectangular kingdom of our sandbox
is where I waged afternoon battles
through makeshift dunes and the bogs
of the wet dirt below – soldiers fell
and tanks capsized. It felt safe…
until that day my oldest brother
came home from school to kid-sit
when my mother took the baby to the doctor.
A 7th grader, my brother was my protector.
I’d skipped around to the front of the house
to jump into the giant pile of leaves
that he’d raked up to take to the burn-pit
when the neighborhood truant, Leon Jackson,
walked into our yard and sucker punched
my brother in the nose. I shivered at the bright
red blood pouring down into the brown leaves,
my defenseless brother running into the kitchen
for an ice pack, and Leon sauntering on down
Jones Street like the Duke of Paduke.
I hung my head and went back around
to the sandbox and put my battalions
into their cookie tin.