A poem has a lot of love in it.
You read it and it does something to you,
because what you are feeling
is there on the paper
and in your own heart, too.
It's like finding my Easter basket this morning,
behind the red chair.
Pop put it there.
He is in the far garden
where he goes now since Mom passed on,
every morning he goes,
Easter or no.
But I know when he put this basket together
with this purple Easter grass,
these yellow chicks
with the little brown eyes and curvy beaks,
the brilliant green pen
and notepad for making my poems,
his heart would feel the same
when hiding it as mine does finding it.
For just then,
we are the same,
Pop and me.
Love, it's a lot like that.
But there is something else I found out,
not like love at all,
and so unlike Sis,
who is on the top stair yawning,
smiling down at me,
"Pepe hasn't licked the chocolate eggs this year, has he?"
Her eyes going for her basket.
"No, not a one," I say.
Sis is just a minute searching,
long enough now we are older,
she sixteen, me eleven,
we like to look for our baskets
but not like when we were littler.
And because it is Easter Sunday
Auntie Lidia and Uncle Troy
come by bringing with them
corn relish, half a smoked ham,
spice cupcakes with buttermilk frosting,
and their boy, my cousin Aldo.
A cousin who comes in the kitchen door chomping
on a long piece of straw.
He still wears the 3-D Space Specs
that he has worn the last two times I've seen him.
Ever since in a science magazine
he spied planet Saturn behind Jupiter.
"Look," he said. "Behind that fat planet.
I couldn't even see it."
It got by him without the glasses.
After that he wouldn't take them off.
"Hey, Aldo," I say, right away being polite,
which is my first mistake because
polite or not he comes up to me,
the top of his frizzy head under my chin,
hands on hips, and says in his squeaky-brakes
kind of voice, "Who are you?"
And I know, even though Aldo is a shrimp for a nine-year-old,
and even though he has only enough friends to count
on one hand, not counting the thumb and pinky,
and the ring finger is in doubt (meaning two that I know of).
He gets a bull's-eye with me every time.
It's like I don't see the arrow coming.
He fools me because he has dimples and freckles
and he's kind of cute,
in the way of a Jack Russell terrier,
so I don't see it,
And then, ugh,
he's got me with a joke, a trick
no one else in all the world would ever fall for.
Like the time he told me bean sprouts were like little worms
and I could use them for fishing.
Which I did.
I even began growing them in Pop's garden,
watering them every day with my blue watering can,
imagining little sprouts I could pick for fishing
instead of going nightcrawling
and digging by the light of my flashlight
for a big, clumsy worm.
Yup, I believed it.
Then the time Aldo said Yvette Carne,
a girl I admired,
dove into Quarry Lake.
I imagined her diving
in her lime tank suit
like a dart
into the murky water of Quarry Lake.
Next time I saw Yvette,
I told her, "I am going to jump. Just like you."
I said it bold-faced and up close.
So when she said, "That water's dirty! I would never do that."
I shrank back wordless.
And do you think I would get it with him, even now?
A cousin who knows very well who I am?
"Hey, are you listenin'?" he squeals. "Who are you?"
What I think to say
are those words from the poem,
"I'm Nobody! Who are you?"
The poem I was told to read aloud
in my reading-readiness class.
But I don't want to be nobody,
because for a long time now
I have not known who it is I am
or what I am supposed to be doing.
It is like being lost.
Being lost with nobody to tell it to.
Because who would listen now?
So I don't say a word.
And maybe it is because Aldo knows this,
my secret weakness, he takes the jab.
"You're just a girl."
Not Yvette Carne with the long black hair,
tan so wild she looks native,
and black, black eyes.
I drop the table talk,
march out onto the cool porch steps,
and bend down letting Pepe
just lick my nose and pow!
I kiss him. Like that.
I stretch way back so's my hair hangs way low
and call out, "Anybody here besides me?"
It is a game I play when I first come to a place.
I call out, and then I stand there listening,
letting it all--
the wind, the leaves,
the birds--have their say.
I start running up the path
till I feel the dirt at the back of my ankles.
I flop down creekside, kicking sand up everywhere.
It sounds like a laugh when it hits the water.
I laugh, too,
bringing my knees to my chest,
hugging all of me.
Cecelia Laugh Out Loud Lion. Who are you?
I am a spy train, moving through wild roses,
chasing squirrels, smudging raccoon prints,
digging in hollowed-out trees, feeling for acorns,
peeking out from behind a spotted
and gnarled old tree. Crick, creek go the vines.
Oh my crackity old bones.
And I just find the wooden bridge. Thruuump.
It makes a hollow sound when I jump.
I stand there like a scout.
Because in these woods it's all different.
I am different.
And that is why,
because I have heard my friend's little sigh,
and know he is hiding,
I hitch a vine under my arm,
take a running start,
and go out over the creek calling,
"Anybody here besides me?"
"That you? Come out here!"
"Yep," and then he is running at me,
grabbing the vine, our hands just touching
so's I don't even feel the weight of him
as we fly off that thrumpity bridge
heading straight into the noonday sun.
I stumble back onto the bridge,
not sure of my footing,
holding on to him.
Only I am the scout.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Scout by Christine Ford. Copyright © 2006 by Christine Ford. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.