The window’s open and a cool breeze and old memories
waft through the screen. The smells of dry grass and flowers
take me back to my youth. The window’s open there, too,
as I lay in bed in my childhood bedroom. That day I planted
a pansy my mother gave me – folded its roots into the rich
earth next to the birch tree. There’s the little building Dad put
together in the back yard so he could work on his maps and art
away from the hustle and noise of the rec room with its TV
shouting out Bewitched and Mighty Mouse and Get Smart.
The fence between our neighbors behind us and our backyard
blew down in the hurricane a while ago – Dad had been out
there, trying to hold the fence in place, when Mom called him
in because the hurricane lamp flared up. As soon as he left
the fence it tore apart into pieces that whipped away in the storm
and now we have neighbors behind us who weren’t neighbors
until the fence blew away and revealed us to each other.
For a while we play in the dirt with the neighbor children
who live behind us. But we soon lose interest in each other.
Maybe our loyalties to the neighbors to the right and left
have built another kind of fence between the backyard neighbors
We played TV tag in the front yard – yelling out the names of our
favorite TV shows before the tagger could tag us. And we rode our
bikes to the school so we could see the class list posted on the front
door and find out who our teacher would be next year. Then we
played hide and seek in the mounds and the scotch-broom
in the empty lot across the street.
The patio has a picnic table on it and I sit at it with a Pixie Stick
or my home-made juice Popsicle frozen in a Tupperware mold.
I step on a clover blossom and get my first bee sting which Mom
soothes with baking soda and water and love. I feel bad for the bee
after she tells me it died when it stung me. We pray for the bee
and for me and life goes on. We have these pipes that Dad put
up in the backyard for us to play on – two vertical pipes about six
feet tall and about five feet apart – with a horizontal pipe
connecting them at the top – and I get it in my noggin to wrap
a scarf around it and try to work my way along the top pipe
by holding onto either end of the scarf. But I let go of one end
of the scarf and land on my belly and experience getting the wind
knocked out of me for the first time. Dad’s got the bamboo high
jump set up for me and I jump and jump again until the sun
goes down – testing myself, wanting to go just a little bit higher
before it’s time to go inside and get ready for bed.
And I lay in bed at night, with a cool breeze wafting through
my bedroom window and wonder what tomorrow will bring.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell