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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

I Am Here Now

Barbara Bottner




Richie O’Neill signals me from his apartment,

which is directly opposite mine.

He’s waving his dad’s Fulton GI flashlight,

describing tight circles that beam

directly into my bedroom window,

hissing alert:

Something important is going down.

Just knowing he’s there, that I’m not alone,

helps me get through

so many days and nights.

All I have to do is peek around

the ugly purple thrift store curtains

my mother hung.

Even though she loves to sew,

she decorated my room

with “feel bad about yourself” drapes.

Thanks, Mom. I do.


Richie and I have a system:

Horizontal swipes mean

come down to the lobby when you can.

But extensive, sweeping circles,

like you might see on a tarmac

when a plane’s lost its landing gear,

mean emergency. Help. Five-star alarm.

(I lost my landing gear a long time ago.)

I open then close my curtains,

signaling my departure.

Then I grab my jacket;

the lobby’s always cold,

except in summer,

when you wish to the Gods of the Bronx

that it would cool off.

But there are no gods

here in the Bronx.

Copyright © 2020 by Barbara Bottner