In Socrates’ Defense
I remember my face pressed up against the hot chain link fence,
my fingers wrapped around and through the wires.
My small feet pegged into the diamond shapes,
clinging like a Gecko,
sunning his cold blood.
I remember wanting to play European football
with the boys on the other side of the fence.
Sometimes the ball hit the fence near me,
I rocked back and forth, and they would look at me.
Embarrassed, I’d lower my gaze and smile at the dusty ground.
They called out to me.
I didn’t know their language, but I knew what they meant.
They were asking for my name, and if I could play football.
I nodded affirmation because they talked so kindly.
I could not believe the stories I was told about them.
I remember the aroma of the soldiers’ cigarette smoke,
as they walked along the other side of the fence.
Sometimes they kicked the ball back to the boys.
I thought they must have liked football too.
Sometimes a soldier would give me a sesame cracker through the fence.
I remember when the games ended, coming down.
My fingers and hands held the fence lines for hours.
I would jump down and make a dust plume, on my side of the fence.
I climbed up and over those huge jagged rocks that went up a little hill.
At the top, I would gaze back down at the emerald color of the boys’ field.
My father died a soldier’s death.
They told me the people on the other side of the fence had done it.
I could not believe it, at the time.
My mother sent me with my uncle to America.
I was to play football on emerald grass.
Had I stayed, they would have made me a soldier like my father.
I remember feeling terribly guilty, and hollow.
My extended family was a partisan jury, staring at me.
My bad dreams are plagued by them; my good, those boys.
In those dreams the fence is gone, and I give and take passes.