Scarecrow

Laura Read

The boy who bent down to tie my son’s shoe,
who zipped his coat, who opened his granola bar

every day of first grade, is moving to Wyoming,
state of bison and sunsets, state where

two older boys pistol-whipped a third
because he was gay, because they could see

his collarbone, because his eyes were the color
of washed chalkboards, his hair thin as feathers.

They hung him on a fence where he died
for eighteen hours until a cyclist found him,

thinking at first he was a scarecrow.
It was hot the day your father

drove us through Spokane, looking for your name.
We bought ice cream cones from a drive-thru

and licked the cold sugar slow,
leaned our arms out the windows.

We crossed the bridge and the river where boys
stay out late, turn to straw under the hard stars.

We drove until Matthew fixed itself to you
like death entering his body that night

on that fence, until the sky turned pink
like Wyoming’s.