Toby and Donnie go to the library
with me on Friday.
Toby asks for a book on NASCAR
and looks for pictures of crashes
while Donnie talks to everyone.
I’m trying to get him to Say hi and move on
and usually he’s okay with that
but sometimes I have to peel him off
strangers who he’s asking to marry. There’s a young man from one of the group homes,
there by himself, and he’s gentle and helpful
with Donnie, who’s his friend.
We share a vitamin water
and an oatmeal raisin cookie at the coffee shop,
and afterwards go down to Great Falls
where the river is rushing awesome.
I’m elbow to elbow with Donnie,
reminding him children are strangers,
when Toby points into the leaves
at the bottom of the fence where
there’s a little green garter snake
with yellow stripes. Can I kill it?
he asks and I give him heck, saying
No you’re not going to kill that beautiful snake
and he stands there watching it, fascinated.
It‘s a bright, sunny day
and we’re in t-shirts for the first time this spring
and make it up the hill to the observation deck
where Donnie stands beside a group of children
and doesn’t bother anyone.
We press ourselves against the railing
and marvel at the roaring water
crashing on the rocks
and for a moment
there’s no place like home
on this magical earth.
Then we walk to the van
and blast the oldies
all the way back to the day center.