my mother
combed my hair.

i was standing in
the kitchen with my friend Stephen

(it was always Stephen, never Steve)

we were
getting ready
to go back out to play.

i don’t
remember how old i was,

i just remember
being sweaty and dirty

and i’d washed my face
and got a drink

i asked
my mother
to comb my hair
and i remember the way
Stephen looked at me when
she held the comb under the water

and ran it thru my hair.

i looked at the floor.
i heard the water running in the sink.

i felt
young and
stupid and ashamed.

the sink was
cold against my skin,

and there was
something cooking on the stove.

that was
also the last time
she knelt down and tied my shoes.