Posts Tagged ‘innocence’

That was the summer

they drove the Ferris wheel into town,

erecting it in the park—

and James Taylor and Carly Simon

sang to each other over the radio

and people paid money

to throw ping pong balls into small jars

for the chance to win a goldfish;

to throw darts at balloons

for a giant teddy bear.

The park smelled of beer and grilled corn

and from the top of the ride,

I could almost see the whole town—

down to the five and dime and up to the cemetery.

Those were the days before I knew words

such as mercy or duplicity or forgiveness.

The cotton candy melted on my tongue in sharp crystals.

The Ferris wheel was gone the next day,

my pocket full of tickets I couldn’t spend.

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Today it slipped into my daughter,

the seed that all is not right in the world.


In a matter of hours, already

the tap roots had grown beyond


my ability to pull them out.

I wonder if I have been wrong


to keep her garden so tidy.

I wonder how to best teach her


to tend her own rows.

It will be endless now,


the onslaught, as every gardener knows.

And there is some pleasure in tending.


I think of how I would rather

be aware of all that grows.


I think of how sometimes

we change our minds


about what is wanted

and what is a weed.


Some part of me longs

to swing the sun back to yesterday.


Some part of me rejoices

that now all the world


is her garden.

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Just trying to keep things safe,

this innocent, valiant inner mason

who built this stone fortress

to protect me from the vicious wind—

of course there are no windows,

no doors.

That’s how a breeze might come in.

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            a found poem



mom, she says,

I found this ring I’m wearing

on the ground—

do you think it means

the world and I are married?


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It was Sam who,
that summer before fourth grade,
danced with me
at the church camp dance
and asked me to walk
outside with him.
“It’s hot,” he said.
“Let’s go look at the stars.”
And I, who did not yet
understand the sweet cramping
that tendrilled deep in my gut when
Sam held my hand, said yes.
We stood there a long time,
me looking out at the stars
because that is what
we were there to do.
The night was the color
of Wisconsin violets, crushed,
and Sam, still holding
my hand murmured low, “Oh,
look over there,”
and, when I turned
my feathered head, he leaned
in quick and close
and kissed my astonished lips.
Even thirty-five years later,
I am still somewhat
unprepared as I write
what happened next,
how he sprinted away,
a gleesome hart,
how I stood there, still,
my lips apart, the soft
hands of the night
still holding the most tender
parts of me as they spilled
like fruit no one knew
was yet ripe, and the sharp
stitch of longing
so new to me
sewed itself
into my breath.

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They are all around me,
the ones with white hair and no hair,
the ones who can hardly stand
or walk or feed themselves.
I am like them that way,
only much, much younger,
sitting in the sharp cut grass
wearing only my diaper,
my bloomers, and my curiosity.
I am eating a popsicle,
orange. And I can tell
they are watching me.
It is easy for them.
They smile at me and point
and chat. But I also know
it is not about me,
their broken laughter.
Nor is it about the popsicle
trickling sticky and orange
in my hands, down my neck.
It’s about, well, I don’t know
that part yet.

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