Summer Memories

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.

Old Photo

A photo of my 31-year-old dad holding
The 3 month old me on his lap in my
Childhood album caught my attention today
He holding me I’ve had this photo for years
And thought I knew it he looking down
On me blanket wrapped but today I
Took a fresh look and saw the rotary
Phone on the wall and the pass-through
Window over the draped kitchen table
His slicked back black hair and handsome
Silhouette my round cheeks his crisp
White shirt with turned up sleeves but mostly
I saw his gaze looking down at our hands
I followed his eyes how had I never noticed
He looking at my five tiny fingers holding
Wrapping one of his fingers tightly

New Leaf’s Dance

Verdant virgin babies form lacy filigree patterns
Newborn leaves bathe in glistening dewy post-partum shades
Avocado, mint, tea green fresh growth hues
Stretching toward warmth, craning toward light

Wonder of the new and fledgling floods senses untested
Ancient course leather peaks through infant veils
Grudgingly awakened bark irritably tolerates fresh buds
Aged crust squelches bloom’s excitement at all that’s new

Cynical antique skin resists and squirms at youth’s glee
Yet, brave youthful promise rejects craggy elderly gloom
Dancing in glimmering beams, absorbing the sun’s tattoo
Nature’s stamp of life and light fuels bantling bliss

Happy Earth Day Tree

Tarzan rope swing, climb four, no five feet
Reach left hand for lowest branch
Swing right leg over branch
Pull with right hand, lift and sit
Gaze at the back yard from perch

Hand on next branch, stand, peruse
Careful prudent feet in blue Keds step
Next branch up, climb to highest branch
Stand tall, 25 feet up, breath deep
Lean against trunk, slide body to sit

Legs hang down, bark against thighs
Sun sinks low, disappears behind house
Gold glow pervades shadows stretch
Lightning bugs (wonderful bioluminescence) appear
Glitter, flash, sparkle, flicker, gleam

Best childhood climbing tree ever
Happy Earth Day

Oscar’s Advice

Calm kindly eyes beseeched
What can I teach you?
Asked Oscar of the children
Slowly drowning in the stuff
Only money could buy

One replied as others squirmed
Serious brows drawn
We suffer in our crowded heads
Benign trivia overwhelms
Thoroughly devoid of solace

Take a walk, came the considered reply
Soak in the bursting buds
Gulp the scent of lilies of the valley
Wonder at the momentous gold
Sun setting over verdant hills

The Tent

“Did you see my tent?” she asked as I cuddled her new baby brother (Hello little boy, welcome to the family).

“Susan gave you the tent. Why don’t you wait a minute” said her mom, my sweet niece who was the same imploring 3-year-old just 5 minutes ago.

“Come into my tent”, she said with pleading eyes and a half smile.

“Do you like your new baby?” I asked as I kissed his tiny fingers.

“Yes”…then… again, “come see my tent”

Giving up the bundle of a boy to his mom, I trail to the living room, home to Ikea’s best orange & yellow carnival tent; a child’s oasis from the stream of eyes for the newborn boy.

“Here, get in” I crouch to climb through the tiny flap to the precious space.

“I have a pillow, see, sit down” I sit, and she lays her head on the pillow with a sly, secret smile of success.