The ice cream parlor in my hometown
burnt in a fire that ate a whole city
block, but I can still see it—the beige brick,
red tin awning, doors that squeaked open—
and still taste the rocky road and caramel syrup.
The sky is overcast in autumn
and the wind reaches through buildings
on our small town main street.
On a seventh-grade Saturday,
the neon tells me: Homemade Ice Cream and Soda.
She sits across from me
and smiles for the weekend.
A bell sounds as a woman
walks out into the cloudy day.
Our parents dropped us off out front
and my mother gave me
a ten-dollar bill.
“I’ll be back in an hour,” she said,
pulling away, eyeing us in her rear view.
So for an hour, we sit and eat ice cream,
talking about seventh-grade
things, which teacher is nicest,
whose lockers stand beside ours.
Smiling, nervous, living in the spaces
before the orange glow of fire
would rip it all apart.