The Woods of My Childhood

I come from a carpet of pachysandra
waist deep in the leavings of oak and maple
burrowing snow tunnels into an Indiana winter

I have camped with the May apple
bedded with sisters on her waxy green leaves
floated her blossoms in turquoise ceramic

I am from morels and blackberries
bittersweet and violets
fireflies and flying squirrels

I have been initiated into the elderberry clan
stained purple my fingers and face
chewed sassafras gum like the Indians

I know the sway of the “windy tree”
I have hung by my knees from the “ladder tree”
I have hailed my closest friends with acorns
from the spreading oak

I am from the headless king snake
pinned to the clothesline
fairy rings in the woods
drain-fairies in the tub

I come from the Queen of Hearts
Mary in the wonderland of Gregorian chant
my father singing to us before bed

I am from flying dreams and acrobats
enough siblings to be our own circus
cluster birthday parties on the summer lawn

I am peanut butter and jelly on a railroad tie
the sweetness of eating out of doors
cookies and Kool-Aid for after

I am from the scavenged school slide
we slicked with waxed paper
sailed steeply to its abrupt end
moist earth to break our fall

I am from community from clan
from a mesh of interconnection                                                                                                                    tough as airplane skin
supple as a green willow wand

in the city I sidle up to the trees
to the sigh the sway the swing
pop up as a runner among many
connected to the roots of long ago


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