hangs over the railing
at the first townhouse
next to my building
only I don’t know yet
his name is Ronnie.

He is 15, maybe,
tall, Chinese, with
smart, stylish glasses.

He skips hellos goes straight
to my dog’s name,
then sticks his hand out.

I’m Ronnie what’s your name?

I decide against
my citydweller’s caution
shake his hand
and tell him.

How do you spell that?

He spells it back in staccato,
tapping his leg at each letter.

His parents call him back in.

It’s ok,
he says,
you go on without me.

I stand there dumbly, smiling,
wanting to tell them
he isn’t bothering me,
staring at the crack in the door,
from which he struggles
to emerge,
pressing his long,
taut fingers against it,

telling me again,
It’s ok,
you go on without me,
as his parents
wrangle him inside

and the door closes
in front of him.