Posts Tagged ‘Pewaukee’

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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Sitting beneath the weeping willow,
what did we know then of distance?
Everything was close then—
the Five-and-Dime, just a few blocks away,
where we could buy a roll of Necco wafers
for just ten cents and share them under the tree.
The great strings of leaves hanging about us,
a canopy, a room of green, a world where we could hide,
though there was nothing much to hide from.

Remember how we, even with our fingertips touching,
could not hug even half the tree, our cheeks
pressed into the thick gray bark in an effort to span something great.

There were days we would slip ourselves into the low split
in the enormous trunk and not come out for hours.
We would pull back the bark to where the trunk was smooth,
a warm brown, and there on the underside of the bark,
we uncovered the curvy carvings of beetles or worms.
We thought they were treasure maps, and spent days
deciphering the strange markings. Oh my brother,
those days were the treasure.

The lines to you now are long curves on a map
that stretches east from the Rockies to the Great Lakes.
I am reaching these grown up arms toward you
in an effort to span something great.
What did we know then of distance,
those green summer days?

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