The melting pot
While the other kids’ games pitted them
against each other, in Frank’s game,
an imaginary monster would stalk him
and he would cower in imaginary terror.
He arrived mid-summer, the only Filipino kid
at the Jewish camp. The other children flocked
to him, all eager to leave off firing lasers
at each other for a new game. Sarah flirted,
reminding me of the little boy
I was engaged to in pre-school.
The other counselors decided Frank’s monster
was promoting violence and commanded
the children to ostracize him.
When Frank peed in the bushes, a counselor
put him in time out, but never told him what
he’d done wrong. When they weren’t looking,
I sneaked to Frank’s side, explained
where it was and was not okay to pee,
found he really didn’t know before.
On a bus trip, the counselors stuck
Frank under the dripping
cooler. He kept repeating, “I’m in wet.”
I tried to switch seats with him, but the head
counselor ordered me back to mine.
When the kids ogled Frank’s noodles,
the head counselor told his mother
to send him with normal food.
Only Sarah flouted the segregation.
She stood by Frank, and together
they hid from monsters, imaginary and real.