One boy was hard-of-hearing,
red-haired, freckled, never smiled,
another wore a white bib,
smelled of milk, and wept easily,
a third was taller than I,
taller even than I am now
with long dangling arms, pale hands;
he walked leaning to one side,
his small head pulled down between
narrow shoulders. I’d meet them
just after dawn on Sundays
behind our flat in the cobbled.
glass-strewn alley. Our task was
to break whatever had not
been broken: bottles, light bulbs,
thick, one-sided scratched records
of Caruso and Ponselle
that sailed over back fences
surrendering their music.
Once the cops came with push brooms
and made us sweep the long block
while they smoked and laughed, two large
red-faced uniformed flunkies
who hadn’t the least idea
of why the five of us had
chosen this work on Sunday