As I reflect on my past 35 years of life today and look towards a busy week and a new year of milestones, I feel both reflective and thankful. One thing I’ve been meditating on the last couple of weeks is all the wonderfully beautiful, colorful things that exist in my memory of my non-digital childhood. I think being born in 1984 was such an incredible blessing of pure chance – we were among the last generations to use landlines, stay out from sun up to sun down on the weekends, and ride bikes unencumbered around our neighborhoods. I think I’ll always endeavor to try to bring little aspects of this – the freedom, adventure, and simplicity of my childhood – to my kids’ lives. This poem is the first poem I’ve written in a decade or more, and it is dedicated to William and Jonica. I hope you guys are enjoying a beer in Heaven while I drink coffee here on earth. You are the narrators of some beautiful memories around the pampas grass.
Pink Pampas Grass
Lifetimes ago, on a different planet.
in another universe, we were princesses,
frenetic flock of hummingbirds
dress-up clothes scattered outside of a Rubbermaid tub beside the backyard trampoline…
we always kept a bath towel
tied around Jake’s neck, so he could
be the hero
and so he would not cry, because only princesses may cry in this game.
Just kidding, Jake.
As long as you kept the kid flush in Lay’s potato chips
he was usually pretty cool.
We used to fling our clothes off wildly and become Cinderella,
like a good little heroine, but with a nasty Madonna-like exhibitionist streak.
I will try to write this and not cry
You know, since I’m sitting here in the corner of a depressing Starbucks
…and have I mentioned?
35 is kind of bullshit knowing that these memories exist on another plane,
pink bicycle flight down Betty to Donald Street
white basket with streamers, full of baseball glove, melted M&Ms,
handfuls of squashed magnolia carpel
we’d launch them, tiny red beans exploding into the Jasmine-scented air
whoever we didn’t want to play with that day
streams of consciousness flow back
to that super disgusting drainage pond that we thought
was just a magical little paradise
covered in a permanent layer of chartreuse foam.
We rode side by side, arms outstretched and screamed so loud the neighbors came outside
the weird feeling when you take your eyes off the road and look up at the clouds
is a handmade rollercoaster.
It’s like how an orgasm feels right before it pulls you under and drowns you,
Hey…I should feel weird about that. Right?
You fell over, I’m pretty sure.
Wisteria melted down the trees by that lonely horse ring.
Path in the woods past it
umbrella of oak crying spanish moss on our heads.
Undeveloped land dotted with
big, weirdly aqua-blue pools we swam in and then said
I just fell in a puddle, mom.
Of all postal workers I’ve ever known, your dad was my favorite.
Because he listened to Guns N’ Roses while he put letters in mailboxes.
We talked one day about emergencies probably because
that weird fire education smokehouse was at South Conway Elementary.
Fire safety and McGruff Crime Dog informed
the greatest fears of our elementary minds
and you asked “Where do we go?”
(cause there were a lot of house fires that year in South Conway)
and I said “Well that’s easy.”
In my head, I could see it going so well!
House up in flames, I would grab Jake and his potato chips
that chair from my grandfather’s house, perfect for breaking a window.
And we’d all meet at the pink pampas grass that we used to pluck pieces of
and hit each other with
Oh my God, why were we so fucked up?
Remember that rattlesnake my mom killed?
Shovel right under the head WHACK!
God, what a badass.
I wanted to be like that when I got to the pampas grass with Salt-and-Crumbs
Jake. And maybe William, since he was always there.
Why must little brothers always be included?
If you see William, you guys should really grab a drink or something.
I’m still not clear on why you both moved so far away.
Nobody asked for my opinion on it. Or Salt-and-Crumbs.
I guess what I’m saying is I wish adult life was as good
as it was to be covered in dirt
creating tents out of beach towels and upside down lawn chairs
cooking leaves in a bucket strung over the tree by the tire swing.
I can’t do a pull-up without thinking about how we dangled from that one limb.
I can’t do many pull-ups.
You know what was my favorite thing, though?
Years later at a Korn concert when someone said
“Oh shit, is that Jonica?”
And you had yanked your shirt off on some guy’s shoulders
Jonathan Davis was screaming about something into the mic
cause anger used to feel very much like love
And I thought “Where is the dress up trunk?”
One day, when this entire world burns, we’ll meet.
At the pink pampas grass.
Bring your bike.