The groves we wandered through
in our youth 
have all begun to bleed into
one another,
and I no longer know whether
the brook
is safe to wade in or if we’ve stepped
past safety,
into the outstretched arms of private 
property, where
two kids threatened to fill our bodies
with holes,
said we’d never be heard from again.
Back then,
I still hadn’t learned how to use my voice,
didn’t know
that the burning in the back of my throat
was shame
begging to break the shackles of silence.
I’m indebted
to that spitfire savior, the firecracker
that stood
face-to-face with fear, danced 
with danger,
and showed us how to navigate a world
of wayward woodlands
and ill intentions.