April 2013

That Whole Summer Long

We boys greedily eye the days ahead, long as they are wide—the whole summer long.
We are loosed in the barrio, locofied the whole summer long.

The older boys, the ones who’ve quit school, and instead play pool at Pepe’s,
Call for next game; we lean against a wall, mystified the whole summer long.

Baseball’s the game to play—no better way to while away a day
Than to take a cut or two, hear the crack of the bat magnified the whole summer long.

Excited at the sound of coins jingling in our pockets, we head to Leal’s Grocery Store
Where we buy an ice-cold soda and sit on the bench outside the whole summer long.

Cicadas scratch their lazy song, stretching it from twelve to late afternoon,
And no matter what you do to shut them up, for them it’s a thing of pride the whole summer long.

Moms and dads shake their heads in disbelief at how hours can pass without our doing anything.
We shrug our shoulders; after all, it’s summertime—we’re justified the whole summer long.

We’re playing marbles and I’m about to win when Toño or Rudy yells, “¡La Migra!”
We’re all from here, and yet, we drop our mibs to run and hide the whole summer long.

Hours turn to days, days to weeks, and then it hits me in the pit of my stomach:
It’s coming to the end for me, and try as I might, cry as I might, I cannot hide that whole summer long.

—René Saldaña, Jr.

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