The neighborhood outcasts were quiet and odd, hard to look at,

two kids teased and shunned and feared and pitied


The boy hid most days in the branches of trees

We looked up at him swaying in the nook of an oak

and wondered at his silhouette with confusion and awe


The girl, first on the block to go gazing into enlightenment

disappeared early one morning and her family said nothing


There are no reports of genius or notoriety about them later in life

They have not been chosen as persons of the year, rarely talked about

at reunions, mentioned at wakes or read about in the news

We cannot picture them grown or hear their questions to our answers

They lurk in our twilight years between fantasy and definition

Each of us has but a single memory of a moment alone with them


Mine was a birthday when he took me to a movie and slipped me

a small knife that I opened in the dark and brushed by impulse

across my fingertips as if to test its reality, hiding the pain and blood

without a flinch under the left leg of my jeans


She passed me on the street, wordless, unsmiling, handed me

a rare stick of cinnamon gum, her eyes stuck skyward, kept walking

I stood watching the aura of her tall slender figure in the sunshine

until she met the shade and became one of its shadows


If they are dead or alive, where they have gone, what they do now,

remains as mysterious to me as the origins of the universe

If not deceased, they must still be out there beyond the range

of science and society if only because I want them to be,

that is, given what I know and do not know, and still cheer

for them to arrive at whatever destination they hope

awaits them outside the far edges of standard deviations