Excerpt #47, Rocking-Chair Moon

Deliver Me

No driver’s license yet,
so I’m strolling home
from St. Pat’s in the deep twilight,
preoccupied with thoughts of Dad
but picturing this cute new guy
at youth group with the friendly name
of Buzz, when a change in the air
empties my head of Dad and Buzz notions
and focuses my attention
instead on a battered old delivery van
rumbling up the deserted street toward me,
high beams in my face,

and the creep behind the wheel gives me
a stare as he cruises past,
windows rolled down, music turned up,
with the bass thumping
and the F-bombs exploding
and me praying,
and a moment later my serious prayer
gets seriously ignored as I hear
the complaint of worn brakes
and the clank of shifting gears
and the growl of the tired but eager
rapist-mobile accelerating,

headlights at my back,
then dimmed to nothing,
and when the van, tuneless now,
and dark, pulls up close to me,
I don’t slow, I sure don’t look,
but an oily chilling voice says
Need a ride, honey?
and I shake my head,
not certain I can make words,
but the van keeps pace and even though
I don’t dare peek
I sense ghostly-white fingers

and I hear the words I don’t bite, I just—
but the sentence dies because
on the sidewalk ahead of me
someone is hurrying out of the gloom,
and in the glow of a lone streetlight
I recognize Mr. Felder, wearing
his ratty running clothes and red shoes
and warm Mr. Felder smile,
sprinting for once,
and he pounds to a stop
and takes my backpack

and my hand like he’d been coming
to meet me the whole time,
and once he’s settled at my side,
between me and the van,
he gives the driver a look and announces
in his cool Mr. Felder voice,
I got your license plate number, friend,
and I never forget, and this time
just one ghostly-white finger gestures as

the van roars and screeches and thumps away,
leaving us in a cloud of dirty exhaust
and blessed quiet except for my heart,
drumming from lingering fear but
also gratitude for the miraculous appearance
of my real-life guardian angel Mr. Felder,
the only-slightly-belated answer
to that serious prayer.

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