Vista, California

by Angel Baker

We spent the days hunting for crawdads and cattails.
There was a neighborhood crew of us white trash kids and one
had a daddy that would load us up in the back of his truck and
drive us around. Wind beat on our faces and we weren’t
afraid because we were too busy being small and curious.
Sky high sycamores passed us by like they were floating.

We made friends with animals and cleaned our hands with dirt
and believed what our mom said was true about where she’d been
for so long. We didn’t know what to do with the crawdads when we
found them in the creek you couldn’t see from the road unless you
looked close.  The swoosh of cars passed every now and again.
The hillsides stayed tan and gold with dried up brush that could burn

for any old reason on a hot day. We chased around the older kids
because they knew secrets and had crunched up packets of cigarettes
and could say their swear words right. Knee deep in moss and still
water, we learned what kinds of tobacco their parents smoked and
we learned whose sister wasn’t a virgin or whose cousin went to jail.
Knee deep in the earth with wet hands, digging for souvenirs we couldn’t

keep. Sometimes when I looked up, my brothers were gone, and it’d be
quiet for a second, except for the sounds of my small boots sticking
in the mud. Sometimes I’d look up and my brothers were there telling me
to Shhh or Hurry. Always somewhere to go, someone to be. Rushing to
get there. A neighbor’s house with yellow carpet or an empty building
under construction or a hill to ghost ride our bikes down until dark.

back to University & College Poetry Prizes