The school year Mrs. Gerner was our den mother she had
a nightclub act at a midtown hotel with a horseshoe bar

She practiced with her partner in the living room during
cub scout meetings while we cut and pasted construction paper teepees for wildlife badges and filled in outdoor worksheets

Her partner, Juliette, played the piano and Mrs. Gerner sang
40’s and 50’s standards like “Blue Moon,” and “Besame Mucho”

Her son, Bobbie, explained that Mr. Gerner traveled on airplanes and was looking for a house in Pittsburgh

Bobbie was the only cub scout who actually lived in an apartment and owned a pair of binoculars and a championship yoyo

An architect’s rendering that hung in the entrance of each building showed the apartments in neat rows with steep roofs, red bricks, cement stoops, a front window in each unit, nine panes in each window, each with white paper shades pulled down, faux white shutters,oak trees, green grass along the walk and flower beds never planted,which will explain an older man’s memory and a boy’s reality, given that the following October the acorns dropped early and Bobbie Gerner didn’t come back to school

Which doesn’t explain why a passerby many years later
doesn’t see children as one might have seen them then,
hands, faces, noses and foreheads pressed hard against
window panes looking out into the gray, waiting patiently
for Bobby Gerner’s mother to return and finally award them
their insignias, their Wolf badges, the promises made to them
as children by people like Mrs. Gerner who secretly leave
for Pittburgh and pile their trash in the hall