CHILDHOOD In The FIFTIES
(This is part of a longer poem)
I am in the school yard and I am flying.
My legs pump harder, faster, harder, faster,
and I see I am higher - almost diagonal with
the limb of the oak tree. Again I pump harder,
I feel the earth move as the pole holding
the swing lifts - up and out - of the ground
whenever my legs curl, and the pole returns
into earth as I straighten them. The pole lifts
up and down, up and down, keeping the same
momentum as my legs; in and out of the earth
as if the pole too had legs.
The girls, my friends in the school yard, watch
me and whisper in each others ear. The pole
continues to lift up and out. With legs extended
I see my black patent leather shoes are scuffed.
When my legs stretch my head bends forward and my
chin touches the flower pin I attached to my blouse,
the pin I stole out of mother’s jewelry box earlier
that morning, for my school picture.
She won’t know I stole it, wore it without telling
her, not until she buys the picture at the end of
My legs stretch out so I am even with the weeping
willow; further from the large oak tree. . . and
it feels like I will fly over the steeple off in
the distant sky.
My friends are still staring and probably want
their turn. I will let them - stop fast - scrape
my heels across loose dirt beneath the swing, raise
dust and cover them with sand. It will teach them
The children never ask me to play, I have to ask
them. Most days I walk home alone avoiding cracks
in the sidewalk; mother warned me if I step on one
I will brake her back. I try to avoid dirt where
ants have pushed dirt up and out between slabs of
cement making perfect circles, passing weeds, wild
flowers, dandelions leaning over a sidewalk as if
searching for space.
I’ll walk home alone wearing my patent leather shoes
passing the grocery man who sits in his rocking chair
beneath a plate glass window, near a sign with a
giant picture of a fudge pop, and watch as the grocery
man chews the stub of his cigar. He stares... like
the children in the playground.
A few more steps before I reach our corner lot where I
live on the first floor of a two family flat.
Grandmother lives upstairs. I glance toward our front
porch, the closer I get I begin to smell the roses, seven
sisters, draped across the railing. I walk along the side
of the house where tulips, bleeding hearts, and giant
orange flowers cover the foundation.
In the back yard lines of dirt grow sticks with papers
attached identifying plum tomatoes, string beans, and
cucumbers. At the end of the rows of dirt, along the
fence grows Grandmother’s grapes, the kind with seeds
and thick skin. I’ll suck on a grape spit both the
seeds and skin to the ground.
Nancy Duci Denofio
all right reserved
NOTE This is the beginning of a longer poem
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