THE BOY IN PLAIN SIGHT

I was the boy who hid in plain sight,
my outline blending with branches in tall Oklahoma oaks
watching the sunrise break on crisp mornings,
learning how I fit into the scheme of life.
A mother skunk, leading her kittens into the barn,
alert to sounds of intruders, knew I was there,
but dismissed me with a quick sniff,
as if I had no business being near the hawk’s nest.
the pigs ignored the skunk family as long as they stayed
on their own side of the wall as if it didn’t matter at all.
the chickens always made an uproar and called for help
if the skunks turned in their direction.
but in the mornings the skunks stayed tight,
checking for insects and mice, and it didn’t seem right
but I had plans for her this night.
we had to protect Billy and his family from a ghostly crew,
and I didn’t know what else to do, I had no gun,
wasn’t allowed to have one, because I might start a fight.
I had heard a group was coming to get Billy and his kin,
and they might never be seen again.
the skunks were my friends, but I set a trap and captured all three,
gave them water and food and waited until dusk
took the mother skunk out and into a gunny sack.
she wasn’t happy, as a matter of fact, but she calmed down,
my parents were off socializing at a pie supper,
and my sisters were telling stories before they went to bed,
I’ll be back in about an hour,” I finally said.
they eyed me with suspicion until I lied about playing kick the can.
Mother skunk and I made it safely without being seen.
I convinced Billy and his family to hide in the forest,
because I knew they would protect all they owned,
but somebody would die, either black or white,
and there would be a swarm of officers making things right.
but who was I to interfere, a world of hate was coming here.
three lights in the house were purposely left on,
and I wondered out loud, “Lord, what have I done?”
Six cars and trucks without lights started up the drive,
tomorrow the news might say, “There was a shooting! Nobody left alive!”
the cars lined up facing the house, men in sheets got out,
I could smell the gas as they prepared their torches,
I knew these men. earlier they sat on their porches,
drinking rye whiskey and gin, pretending to be civilized men.
they waited for the signal and to give the Dixie cry,
I thought it was time for me to slip away and let mother skunk fly.
I was behind them when I threw her into the air,
better than expected she landed on a car roof, angry and tired,
she sprayed all around, and the first inebriated man dropped his can to the ground. he screamed and ran spreading the flames, of course the torches and sheets got part of the blame, the middle car blew up, then right down the line,
a fiery wall of flames separating men from their escape,
some were sensible and rolled in the dirt, they were lucky to receive
second degree kinds of hurt. and mother skunk didn’t trust me for a long, long time, but Billy and his family are doing just fine.

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