When the blonde counselor showed up at Christian camp,the boys stopped being fun.
She arrived, a stack of bubblegumsuitcases next to her—
one reserved only for her headbands—and the boys froze mid-dribble,
one foot in the river, hand on the bow,macaroni necklaces slid off their strings and onto the floor.
Rumor was, the camp dog only had three legsbecause a boy swung his gun during rifle practice
just to drink a glimpse.
We should be team building not breaking,she said one evening, when she cancelled capture the flag.
All of the boys said Hallelujah, suggested trust falls.All of the boys held out their hands.
I declared war when she banned potato chips.She called for vegetables and the cooks planted a garden.
I swore I would find her guilty for something—cigarettes in her tennis shoes, expired condoms for bookmarks.
I waited for her to pull last night’s mealfrom her throat with the hook of two fingers,
wished two pairs of feet in the shower.But each time I hid in the bathroom stalls and spied,
she only flat ironed her hair in thick, lemonade chunks.Each time I pretended to sleep, she only whispered to God
at the foot of her bed, creased as a pleated skirt.Each time I followed her to the yard, she only raised the flag,
watched it float up into the sunrise,a quiet hum of America The Beautiful under her breath.
She did not even know that when the boyslined up in four, straight rows to sing the anthem,
they were singing it for her. When they praised the landof purple mountains, the land of shining seas,
when they belted O’ Beautiful, it was for her.When they sang America, America,they were calling her name.