Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

the almost friends

There's the boy from up the road
with the hole in his heart. Some afternoons
he comes to sit in our yard and listen
to our stories. Our aunt Kay, we tell him,
lives in New York City and maybe we will, too,
someday. And yes it's true, once
we lived in Ohio, that's why
we speak the way we do.
We don't ask about the hole
in his heart. Our grandmother warns us
we know better than that.

There is Cora and her sisters, across the road.
One word in my grandmother's mouth-You stay away
from Coraandhersisters, their mother
left the family, ran off
with their church pastor.
sit watching us.
We watch them back not asking
what it feels like not to have a mother because
our grandmother warns us
we know better than that.

There are three brothers who live down the road
we know this only because
our grandmother tells us. They live
inside their dark house
all summer, coming out
in the evening when their mother returns from work
long after we've bathed and slipped into
our summer pajamas, books curled into
our arms.

These are our almost friends, the people
we think about when we're tired of playing
with each other.

But our grandmother says,
Three is plenty. Three is a team.
Find something to do together.
And so over and over again,
we do. Even though we want to ask her,
Why can't we play with them? we don't.

We know better than that.

Written by Jacqueline Woodson


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge