You take the tracks for like a mile, mile and a half,
keeping your eye out for that path through the sumac,
veering off to the right. Skirting the junkyard,
its great mountain of old tires, its piled rusty cars,
you cross a low swampy patch on a walkway of sinking boards.
The creek is next, and the flat stepping stones
we used to say were placed there by Indians.
Across the creek the path slopes upward, getting steep.
You pass a few back yards with barking dogs,
winding your way, crickets scattering at your feet,
before you come at last to the crest.
Have a seat,
your back against that boulder someone painted white,
fishing that peanut butter sandwich out of your pack.
You have reached the rim of your valley, of your world.
That cluster of rooftops in the distance is your town.
Your Mom stands over the sink, wondering
now where’s he gotten to? The sun
slides westward, drifting, and you drift too,
till somewhere a firehouse whistle blares, a double blast,
reminding you in code it’s late, it’s late,
and you’ll never make it back before dark.
On those tree-lined streets so far below
the kids are thumping home for supper.
The long day for them has been
wild with daring choices.