When I was seven and when I was ten,
the meaning of May Day was different back then.
It conjured up candy or flowers and fun
not fear of a shipwreck or missile or gun.
We’d construct baskets of paper and glue,
put in some candy and a flower or two–
marshmallow peanuts so rubbery and chewy,
jelly beans, candy corn, gumdrops so gooey.
From a big ribbon, they’d hang like a fob
so the basket could hang from a door handle knob.
We’d sneak to a friend’s house and ring the doorbell,
leave the basket and take off, running like Hell.
If anyone caught us, a prize they would seek–
a slap on the arm or a kiss on the cheek.
The boys gave the slaps and the girls gave the kisses–
(the reverse of our wishes for all of us “Misses.”)
For friends who lived farther than six blocks away,
our parents would drive us some time in the day
before school or after to deliver our gifts.
We escaped easier when we had lifts.
We once strung a Maypole from tether ball staff
that was rather disastrous—more of a laugh
than a sweet springtime rite filled with dancing and grace.
When our ribbons got tangled, they laughed in our face.
When our class bully fell down, exposing her panties,
we all joined in with our uncles and aunties,
our moms and our dads and even the teachers,
the school board, the doctor, the priest and the preachers.
Everyone roared at this May Day disaster,
then we picked up our ribbons and ran even faster,
some unfortunate dancers wrapped tight to the pole
until finally the school bell began its slow toll,
telling us all to disband and depart,
weak from the laughter and lighter of heart.
A day in my memory much better than payday–
the one time when May Day was also a mayday!