In the brown days of the Dust Bowl
a family without a home moved into the garage
of a house across the street and they had a daughter.
A girl to play with in the neighborhood!
No more rejection from the boys’ pickup
baseball game in the vacant lot or
being made to play “nurse”
while they played war.
So I crossed the street to make friends,
admiring her neat cornrow braids
with the small red bows.
I took my paper dolls and we sat
on the bare floor and played.
Excited, I told my mother all about it.
She said I couldn’t go back, couldn’t play with her.
“Because I said so.”