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On hot August evenings, the young boys linger
outside my fence. One is a bear; he tells
me stories of boys he has beaten with his roar.
One is an owl and tries to impress me
with quotes from Emerson and Lowell. The last
is a peacock and also the snake; he stares
at my breasts and talks of his mother.

They ride short circles, looking for my eyes,
then jump their bicycles in the air.
When I stretch to trim the roses
the snake dives to look up my dress.
Giggling, he rolls away before I kick him.

I feed them chicken from the grill,
tearing it off the bone with my fingers.
The bear and the owl eat first.
The snake hangs back
and I give him the biggest piece,
lick my fingers, trim another rose.

      — Diane Willadson