Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Tag: Childhood

Remembering Camelot

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Every fly
is a dragon
when
you are a knight
righting wrongs
with a cattail lance,
standing guard
with a lily pad
shield.

Regardless of the Weather

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As I look up from my breakfast bowl
of blueberries and Greek yogurt
the same as yesterday and the day before
and the day before that
and every day for weeks,
a non-decision I choose to make,
the low-shining sun illuminates the schmutz
on the pane of picture window
all pine pollen and dust
cooking smoke, fire soot, and dander
grime inside and out
its contrast to light
obscures the view of the sleeping swings
the monkey bars and slide
that will soon feel the tremble
of shrieks and laughter.

The children will come, they always do
regardless of the weather,
though Saturday sunshine brings out the most
the children will come
because they must;
to play is their reason for being
to swing and run and climb and chase
to be alive in their little bodies
testing and trying, risking and growing.

The sun illuminates the sediment of sorrow
inside and out, grief clinging
to the pane of picture window
I notice it there as I look up from my bowl,
looking for children bathed in the rays.
All I see is the haze
of morning sun on loss,
it’s too early for child’s play anyway
but the children will come
they always do regardless of the weather
whether I look up from my bowl or not
the children will come
even if I never clean the windows.

The Zen of Turning Wood

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The solidity of my mother, tree
warm in my hand as a babe
spinning, taking shape
from its unnatural geometry
as my meditations
see nothing, hear nothing, know nothing
but it, and this moment
as I fashion with grown-up tools
a plaything for my inner child of six,
before I knew that adults lied
and did bad things
before I knew that children died.

Not escape, but pure presence
as my eyes follow the grain
that once was rooted
that marks the seasons
of sun-spurred growth
and frozen dormancy
that marks the years, turning
as the blade scrapes away
the splinters and bark,
the weathered roughness
and layers of age
to reveal a polished balance
of lightness, strength, and whimsy.

Memorial Day

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Flags were waved
at his memorial service
he was hailed a hero
who died for his country
the ultimate sacrifice.

Flags were waved
as his young widow cried
as his mother cried
and his father stood stoic in shock
at this unnatural order of things.

Flags were waved
as the color guard marched
speeches were made
and 21 guns
were fired in salute.

Flags were waved
as planes flew by,
five in formation,
until one banked right
and flew off alone.

I waved no flag
as I stood there in anger
listening to platitudes
one dimensional, false
and incomplete.

Where were the stories
of teenage drunkenness,
cockiness, violence,
and bullying abuse?
The slamming of doors,
so hard it once broke
the stained glass window
my mother had made?
The yelling, the screaming,
the holes punched in walls?
The bumps, the bruises
the bloody noses he gave me
the ones no one noticed?

Heroes don’t hit girls, I thought
as flags were waved.
It was safe to be angry
he couldn’t strike back.

But in the years since
away from the flags
I stopped tearing him down
having felt pure forgiveness
having felt his amends.

He’d broken my heart,
how dare he leave me alone,
and it came out as anger
the alternative had been simply
too much to bear.

I remember now mostly
my favorite brother
who was the glue between
me, as the youngest,
and the rest of the clan.

The Golden Boy
who, when we were children,
was so full of smiles
a Daniel Boone
to my Indian squaw.

The goofball
the jokester
the daredevil
the clown.

As his co-adventurer
I was sneaking through fences
building rock dams
straddling canons
and climbing sand dunes.

He was sweet and funny
troubled and mean
generous and selfish
loving and cruel,
so imperfectly human, as all heroes are.

It’s easy to remember
and honor with flags
the final act of a hero
his noble sacrifice
and his fall.

I choose to also remember
all his faults and his failings
to admit and embrace them
to love and accept,
because long before he was called hero
I called him John.

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