There Were No Dragons There

Mark and I,
we were just two kids born
in a town where streets
had names like St. Moritz
and Matterhorn.

There were no mountains;
just a little hill behind our house.
We cut some vines
and swinging out
into space
and letting go,
we plunged
into the muddy lake below.
Once we caught a snake;
we named him Joe
and laughed at that all day,
until we lost him in the basement,
to my mother’s loud dismay.

That was not the only monster
hiding in our town.
In the house across the street,
there was a Mister J who drank a lot,
And one block over,
a house where someone had been shot,
and the kitchen had gone up in flames.
Abandoned for the last ten years,
gray paint peeling from its rotting frame,
though at night a dim light
flickered in the window on the second floor (some claimed).

Not to mention all the things no one knew,
because no one tells if no one asks.
And, after all, we were just two kids
having fun, playing on the lawn that hid
its scars beneath the perfect grass.

Mark and I,
we took an oath
to be best friends forever or until
one of us was married, buried, or both.
We shook our secret handshake,
found a salamander in the dirt,
brought it home and put it in my mother’s purse.

On the bus to school,
passing fields of sheep and cows,
Mark stood at the stern, I at the bow,
shields held tightly, swords in the air
to deter our enemy.
But there were no dragons there,
at least not any we could see.