We were born between train tracks
and dark skyscrapers. I knew becoming brave
began when our voices shook and we prayed to
moonlit steering wheels,
looking out at white dotted lines on a black, concrete ocean
and sometimes pretending the other cars passing by were the roaring waves.
Where did we learn to be heroes?
There in the tiled halls of that molding white church,
running rebels with a teacher’s stolen car keys jingling in our pockets
while our parents sat in Sunday school rooms
praying for us?
Or when we sunk our feet in gravel parking lots
and let cigar smoke fill the space we saw stretching out between us
saying, “It’s fine;
Where did we learn to lie?
There in the room crowded with couches we’d taken turns sleeping on
before we crossed our legs on the cushions, pointed fingers,
pretending to not know each other
while the peeling grey wallpaper knew better?
Or when we sat in a half-lit room staring at a child who thought
only death would make him smile again, all thinking
a signature on a release form would make him better?
How did we learn to trust?
There clawing at the crumbling mudded sides of the hill by the river,
while your outstretched hand was reaching for me to let me know
that I could stand up straight and walk?
Or when God let our hearts get broken in childhood bedrooms
and standing shivering on city bridges?
Where did we learn to be sorry?
There in a coffee shop when we saw that forgiveness
is more than something you do to just move on,
but something that can make you happy when you forgive
the right person?
Or there in the bakery when the scraping of two chairs
creeping closer together
on top of orange tiles was forgiveness’ validation?