How do they learn to be men,
these boys without fathers?
Their hands clasped clumsily around baseball bats,
unsure how to swing a punch
or aim the cold silver of a bullet
at the pulsing throat of a deer.
A shaky trigger finger
clutched tightly around a mother's hem
holding on until facial hair and embarassment.
Sneakers following blindly other sneakers
onto unlined courts or into danger,
willing to risk life to be included.
Together they figure out
how to say enough to drop panties
but not enough to keep the same pair of legs returning.
When do they learn to kiss with gentle lips
to support the weight
of a family, to carry
the garbage out every Tuesday,
to unclog drains and pitch tents in the backyard?
To come home, turn the key in the same lock,
to do right in a world of wrong.