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I ran my hand along a picket fence,
Counting heartbeats and running like a child,
Still carefully not stepping on the cracks,
Noting the furrowed ants bustling, thriving.
I wondered at a old chestnut tree that
Had somehow survived the blight, it towering
And ever so gently tilting the walking plane—
Presenting me with more ancient notions:
Of tire swings, swaying, hung from low branches,
And of lemonade stands, secure in the shade.
My youth came flooding back to me, into me,
And so I continued to give it life:
The back door of a bread wagon opened,
Releasing the fresh-baked aroma;
Mother came out with a handful of dimes,
Buying what would’ve taken three hours to bake.
On the houses’ steps rested newspapers
And the sturdy rounded bottles of milk,
Compliments of Elsie the cow, truly
A vision from the grazings of childhood.
We played games on these walkways, like hopscotch,
Roller skating, and marbles. My bag of jewels:
A cool green cat’s-eye, a big blue boulder,
And varicolored pockmarked throwaways.
There—a lush garden lovingly attended
By an old lady, accompanied by bees
And butterflies, all of which caused further
Indulgences in my flights of fancy:
As children—and now if we’re young at heart,
We’d pause in play when that first butterfly
Fluttered by, that fragile ephemeral
Vision of something almost heavenly—
A flower floating on the air, perhaps,
Signaling that our endless summer had
Begun, that something called “school” was now an
Artifact of ancient history.
Did the butterfly first arise from the
Soul of the pansy, before human times—
One of those edenesque transformations
That is inexplicably magical?
The metamorphosis is still charming,
Albeit but from a caterpillar;
Amazingly, delicate as they seem,
They flutter all the way to Mexico,
And take their sweet time, alighting here-there,
Meandering from plant to bush to flower:
We learn that there’s more fun along the way—
The journey as rewarding as “getting there”.
During our carefree days we’d swim the pool,
Diving off the side—after pennies thrown,
Retrieving them from the bottomless deep
Near the big drains—then rising up, breathless.
Still at the garden, my mind back from flight,
The gardener beckoned me inward, and
I leaned over the fence to smell a flower,
And a thousand memories reoccurred:
Each Morning Glory blossom lives but for
A single day, and is replaced by
Another, each in succession shining
In its morning glory, wilting in noon’s heat—
Withering quickly in the afternoon,
Then languishing throughout the evening—
Their happy message to us being that
Another day will always come on.
The Amaranth intrigues—its leaves never fade,
Even long after death, ever remaining
Vivid red; could it be, somehow, that a
Portion of the immortal lives on there?
There, the blinding luminosity of
Sunflowers; we dried the seeds and ate them,
Each still a glowing ember of memory
Of the bright days among a thousand suns.
I drank up buttercup portions of the
Bright yellow light from the elfin goblets—
And entered the realm of fairies, pixies,
Fays, trolls, goblins, brownies, gremlins, and sprites.
We had cherries, and a grape arbor, too—
Eating them fresh, competing with squirrels
And birds, always forgetting to wash them,
So sour they were, then spit out the seeds.
I walked on, and saw a lake surrounded by
Old and broken down vacation cabins.
Of course we were never “there yet” when we
Asked, but soon dozed off, tired of asking.
We dug the worms at night, keeping them moist,
And got up with the sun to fish, and then
Skinned them and cooked them for lunch or dinner—
This to me is America Remembered.
Dad was always out fishing—my brother too,
And me less often. Now I clearly see
That fishing has little to do with fish,
But with cool breezes, moist air, peace, and quiet.
I wore my life preserver all day long;
Once I leaned over for a closer look
And fell in, swimming with the fishes,
Then pushed up, my life jacket now broken in.
We puttered to a mysterious island;
And there we found—nothing, but camped for lunch,
Feeling like pirates, and telling no one
About it until a whole day later.
At night we watched the bears forage for scraps
At the garbage dump; however, one night
The bins were empty when the bears came out—
Then they all turned and looked over at us!
Mom used to say “Come in out of the rain”,
But nowadays, the sun is dangerous,
Unless we wear sunblock, so she says,
“Have enough sense to get out of the sun!”
After a storm, when the sun returned,
We’d run out to see if there was a rainbow—
That shimmering otherworldly vision of
The colorful secret of simple white light.
How are colors made from three primaries?
Why is the sky blue? What unknown colors hide?
Well, color was invented in the 60’s;
Just look at TV shows made before then!
To keep cool we once carried pinwheels, fans,
Parasols, and sucked on a piece of ice.
Now with TV, internet, and cooled air,
We stay inside of the house all day long.
By eavesdropping on the party line, we could
Hear real scandals and idle rumors, and,
If it was more interesting than watching
The grass grow, we stayed to hear the whole story.
Before the invention of the telephone,
All was conveyed by tell-a-woman, but now
We only answer to computers, saying,
“To talk to a human being please hang up”.
The corner market carried everything;
Eden’s shiny red apples called out,
“Touch me, take me, eat me”, and soon trouble
Was at hand but it was crispy, sweet.
I rode my bike everywhere; I always crashed
On the killer hill, on roller skates too;
Now I drive my car there, carefully;
Yes I’m finally getting over the hill!
Always picked up a penny for good luck,
And pins too, for even more good fortune.
I found a horseshoe all of the sudden—
‘Twas bad luck ‘twas still on the horse’s foot!
Rural cemeteries were as parks back then,
So we played near the duck pond, giving them bread.
Some years later I returned, like a goose
That had been away for too many summers.
There were monkey bars for the climbers and
Seesaws tottering for the restless, and
A refreshing sprinkler to cool off in, but
There was always some kid sitting on it.
We made greeting cards, keepsakes, with ribbons,
Lace, assorted scraps, and original words.
Now we buy ready made cards with fluffy words—
In a day or two they are in the trash.
Simple pleasures are as free as ever:
The sights, sounds, and scents of nature; picnics,
Reading, writing, giving, riding, playing—
It’s hard to ever get bored, isn’t it!