What I’d Keep
Give me back the grocery across the highway
where we spent every paper route penny on Chunky bars and
Necco Wafers and candy dots on paper
Give me back the balance bar grown into the oak trees,
high enough to feel dangerous.
Give me back the turtle pancake suppers on Sunday evenings
and still liking Disney.
Here are the cinders in my knees,
the bee stings
and the broken leg,
the wooden stairs curving too steeply
to the shared bedroom,
the too cute sun suits with
the matching panties,
and the long, solitary walks home.
Give me back the tire swing, hung on a branch over the
road, for terrifying drivers with whoops and feet outstretched
Give me back the pieces of insulation we kicked out
of the garage wall to make a fort.
Give me back the smell of snow, the crystallization
of winter sucking my breath away.
Here are the newspapers
delivered into the tavern’s
dark cave every blinding afternoon;
the three-inch garden spiders with
seductive iridescent colors
on their shiny black bodies, surprising me as I
played in the bushes;
the bully, his knife, and his
mother’s belief in all he swore.
Give me back the stack of 45’s, Chubby Checker and the limbo broom,
gawky dancing on a Saturday afternoon.
Give me back Nina England and her chain-smoking family.
Give me back the bicycles of freedom.
Here are the many tears of a lonely child,
the nightly fear of witches
and the tenuous clutching of covers
over my head,
the buckteeth and pigeon-toes,
gangly legs and frizzy hair,
the abhorrence of sex
and the years ahead.
Give me back a week with a loving aunt and uncle at Leesville Lake,
power-boating on the open water.
Give me back the sketches of rooms, houses, mansions, towns,
drawn and drawn and drawn again.
Give me back the Rainbow Bible for children,
my name inscribed in front.
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