To Then, From Now

2011 Barrett Winner

3rd Place Sitrillah Gellani

Dear Childhood,

In the alleys of Holly and Akron, Lapeer and Amazon
I thought I saw you hiding, lurking, cartwheeling,
behind the trash cans, laughing, a Cheshire cat
dodging cars, Pink Panther creeping, chasing then mocking
them until they beeped their horns, serenading,
and they turned the corner as acquainted drivers making fists,
but through rain or snow you’d do it again.
Under moonbeam shadows, dear younger years,
I thought I heard the rustling of our front yard
evergreen, the envied hiding place, where you were hard
to find. Or did I hear the careless crashing into bikes piled
on our indecisively painted brown, then white, then red wooden deck
that sheltered stray cats you called to on winter days;
his was the fence’s shadow, and the shed’s side was hers.
Does your taste still linger, my almost forgotten,
as a strawberry soft center on all hallows time,
sweet tooth decayer scattered on the living room floor
separated by ghouls, ghosts, a witch, a gargoyle.
I smelled you month after month, and desperately swore
the shrinking pillow case was no fault of mine, you
accusing with broomstick and witch hat, not yet paper and pen.
One last hurrah, I see, pure happiness of old,
when trophy monkey bars, avalanche slides
and sun swinging was done,
you danced in the lingering bright spirals of sparklers hand-spun
and fireflies led the waltz while fire-pit flames petitioned
as you smiled and strolled the neighborhood on summer nights
then called to me with dawn birds to referee the morning games,
your reward an umbrella tree-shaded picnic where stories are still told
of how the almost forgotten, pure happiness of our younger years once again unfolds.
With all the savoring love and innocence of Jolly Rancher days,