He has a new bruise
just below the eye,
high on the cheek, left side.
He doesn’t seem to be in pain,
not even flinching when his
cousin reaches out to touch it.
Too young for subtlety,
the youth asks bluntly,
“How’d that happen?”
A shrug is given, a typical
response, followed by a nod
and a request to go to the kitchen.
The inseparable pair retrieve two popsicles
from the freezer, before being shooed
from the room and sent outside.
Retreating to the backyard,
they enjoy the cool confections
in the shade of the old orange tree.
When he thinks his cousin
isn’t looking, he places the
popsicle on his burning cheek,
the cool feel of icy strawberry
temporarily eclipsing the radiating
heat of confusion and shame.
___Cristine A. Gruber studied Literature, Philosophy, and World Religions at California Baptist University in Riverside, California. She is a member of The California State Poetry Society, The Poetry Society of America, and The Christian Writers Guild. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Lifeline, was released by Infinity Publishing and is available from Amazon.com. Cristine's work has been published or is scheduled to appear in: North American Review, Writer’s Digest, Writers’ Journal, Ascent Aspirations, Ceremony: A Journal of Poetry and Other Arts, Coal City Review, Coffee-Ground Breakfast, Conceit Magazine, The Endicott Review, Eunoia Review, Haiku Hippodrome, Home Planet News, The Homestead Review, The Iconoclast, Iodine Poetry Journal, Kind of a Hurricane Press: Something’s Brewing Anthology, Labour of Love, Miller’s Pond, Northern Stars Magazine, Nuthouse Magazine, The Oak, The Penwood Review, Poem, Poesy, Poetry Explosion Newsletter, The Poet’s Art, The Poet’s Haven, Shemom, The Shepherd, Ship of Fools, Silver Wings, The Stray Branch, The Storyteller Magazine, Thema, The Tule Review, and Westward Quarterly. She has been a featured poet in Writer’s Digest for National Poetry Month.