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Summertime on Mama Bell’s back stoop,
it always started with someone saying, 
“Your mama don’t wear no drawers”—
school kids playing the dozens—

and we’d fall over laughing, pretending 
to look up some lady’s skirt, until 
a boy would say, “Well, your mama 
wear combat boots to church.”

And we’d march around the yard 
like soldiers firing into the air. 
Trying to out-jank the boys, 
I jump up yelling, “Your mama

breath smell like week-old cabbage.” 
And Mama Bell appears, at first a shadow 
on the screen door. “Come on in here,” 
she says, pulling me in. “You have 
the rest of your life to learn that game.”

Natasha Trethewey