as he whispered to mom about a fireball and Cuban
missiles. At school we practiced duck and cover,
cowering beneath battered wooden desks
built with inkwells from a time when pens were dipped.
Hands holding a bent head, my heart beat between the ears.
Nike was watching, always ready, computers
and radar scanning the sky, missiles primed
against Soviet bombers. Soldiers hunkered down
in bunkers were wired on coffee, fully alive
on adrenalin, and waiting for the ultimate.
With warheads long gone, kids now play at Nike
Park, wearing shoes with a trademark swoosh.
They run around ball fields, sprinkling the air
with laughter and shouts in a spot where radar towers
once stood guard and waited. A low, boxy block building
where uniformed men used to bend over panels of lights
and buttons is decorated with a bright mural depicting
smiling children, blue sky, an arcing rainbow and lush,
deep green trees. Nike Tykes is a safe and supportive preschool,
where children can be independent, curious and creative.
The sirens are silent, for now.