Giving the Big News
by Christopher Crawford

There were two kids like me
    and someone's curly-headed younger brother by the stream, in the mulch
          of sparrow skulls, wet porn and rotten blankets in the weeds.
I whispered to the brother that
    poison rats, special 'cause you canít see them
          canít feel their bite,
hide in the branches all around, and you will know
    if you're bit when I rub the palm of your hand with a dock-leaf:
           your skin will stain,
you want to see green, if it comes out yellow
    you're dead
— and I had a buttercup flower screwed inside the leaf.
           So after heíd turned his hand over and looked inside
I stood and listened to the small screams
                                                   and the snap of bracken breaking in the dark
get further away. And even now I don't know
    if there's a right way to tell somebody,
           a way to understand.

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NC 2011 New Year Edition