by Debra Kang Dean
Dean. Precipitates. Hail
I was eleven the first time I saw it, the November afternoon gone heavy and gray. I'd begun to doze when something— not palm fronds rustling nor monkey pods rattling, but more like spoons against glass or small bells—something began clinking against the second story's blue palings and rails, lightly at first, bringing all of us, even the teacher, to our feet and out the door. Not since, three years before, when the staticky Standard Oil broadcast had been interrupted by news that brought to tears even Miss Engard (who didn't tax our imaginations too hard playing the part of witch at Halloween) had there been so much commotion. Seeing our teachers openly weeping had frightened us even more than a word like assassination. Above us, concrete. Under our feet, concrete. And all of us stretching our hands beyond the blue rails to catch, as they fell, clear pieces of sky that burned a second, melting in our hands.