Kendra Kopelke

It takes five seconds

       to cut across

                    someone’s property.

I did it a lot. I led my dog

       onto the grass

                    between two houses,

checked first to see if anyone

       appeared to be home.

                    We wanted to catch

a break

       from monotony.

                    Like thieves

we wanted what we wanted.

       We wanted to thread through

                    the dull canvas

that was our neighborhood,

       to make up for the people

                    who let us down.

We loved

       empty backyards,

                    dead, twisted gardens,

the rush and fear of being

       exposed and unseen

                    in broad daylight.

We were foxes, deer.

       We were out there,

                    where nowhere is.

Maybe the neighbors

       would look out their windows

                    and see us

for what we were.

       We walked quickly

                    heads down,

imagined rifles

       pointed at our backs,

                    fists shaking

behind glass,

       voices putting us

                    in our place.

We told ourselves

       each time

                    this is the last time.

Kendra Kopelke is the author of four books of poems, including, most recently, Hopper’s Women, a series of poems in the voices of the women in Edward Hopper’s paintings. She is co-editor of Passager, now in its 23nd year, and Passager Books, a journal and press that features the work of older writers. She directs the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore.

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