In my memory “the girls”, my sisters, hid daily in our next-door neighbor’s pine paneled basement. Those older kids, almost teenagers, played whole-heartedly. All summer. The Game Of Life. Clue. Cootie. Cribbage. Endless Monopoly games.
As a kid of five or six they grudgingly allowed me to tag along to the basement refuge my sisters loved. I promised to be quiet and swore not to be annoying. The sweet boy-next-door, a young teenager, tossed me over the sofa back into the fluffy pillows. I loved that the most. Then he dove himself with a laugh and Fosbury Flop before it was even a thing. My hero. The black and white TV blinked non-stop gray. A Ping-Pong ball clicked time with our fun. I understood my sisters’ heaven.
That musty basement was real perfection. And then it wasn’t any more. The afternoon when it changed the college-age sister of the sweet boy whose basement we loved stood on the steps yelling “Don’t you kids have your own damn home?” She was fierce and strong and scary as hell. We slunk up the stairs, hearts pounding. Tails tucked, heads down. Unwelcome refugees. Hugging the wall against her glare. Shame.
My sisters continued playing next door but I stayed home. And when I was old enough I spent most of my time on the creek in the woods behind our neighborhood. I loved the green quiet where I basked in made-up adventures. I was a daring hero with a pocketknife and rope coiled on my belt. Keeping my distance with imaginary armor.
Seven AM rowdy bird screams reverb in the oppressive heat
Blasting unknown calls as others sing secret lyrics.
The chaotic symphony infuses my morning with calm.
Serenity amid the clatter.
The definition of contradiction.
I dry my seat from overnight dew as
A shaky speckled fawn sniffs
around the edges of the patio below.
Her saddle a constellation of white dots.
White tail flicking intermittently some
unseen fly as she moves out of my
Coffee spot gaze.
On this other new dawn the weather is cooler. Relief.
The mother stands in the mulch
Just beyond the pool deck munching grass.
Yesterday’s fawn bounds toward her mom.
Baby’s head under belly tilts, grasping teat,
Sucking hard as her baby tail wags at warp speed.
Rhythmically lifting front hoof in time or excitement,
Like any joyful baby thrilling at mama connection.
Patient wanderer wrapped wooly thick and warm
The day is coming when the weight will be lifted
Your extra burden will be eased in just a minute
The buzz will terrify but the outcome’s the coolest
That’s cool “amazing” as well as cool “nearly naked”
They’ll whisk the plunder away to weave wonderful
Warmth and style and blankets and sweaters and
Wonder as your full fluffiness is memorialized
A beat-up red Toyota passed me as I turned right out of the Smoothy King. It rattled straight for the dead end with resolute intention. A scrubby barrier loomed straight ahead. On the other side a magical place. It’s true. I’ve been there. For a minute I imagined the bespectacled boy determinably pushing his luggage cart straight toward the brick wall. Track 9 3/4. I glanced in the rear view mirror hoping for magic. If the shaky car had disappeared I’d have burst with joy. And hope.