Category Archives: Childhood Angst

White Boots with Tassels

JudyBen1954This is the only photo I have of me wearing the white boots lauded in this poem.  Too bad the tassels aren’t showing! That’s my dad being silly and sporting as a hat a centerpiece brought back from Mexico by our neighbors.


White Boots with Tassels

Hand over hand, hand over hand—
we were a little twirling band—
Sharon, Diane and Meridee,
Jerilyn, Sheila and me.
We felt that we were in cahoots
as we donned our tall white boots
that sported tassels hanging down,
strutting them all over town,
dropping batons we soon retrieved
and we all truly believed
one day we’d be good enough
so we would come to strut our stuff
before the band, wands held on high
then thrown aloft into the sky.

Those dreams, alas, soon became dated
when our high school mentor graduated,
going on to college where
her baton rose to higher air
while ours were relegated to
shelves that sported a single shoe,
old castoff dolls and castoff dreams,
Teddy bears ripped at the seams
and small batons barely abused
because they were so rarely used.

Yet in our dreams, we strutted tall,
the finest majorettes of all—
batons twirling as they rose high
above us far into the sky,
returning safely to each hand
in sync with music from the band
we marched in front of, pert and sassy,
our tasseled boots sexy and classy.
Big girls now grown up from small,
the coolest high schoolers of all.
The truth of this, alas, it seemed,
 to be something we merely dreamed. 

The prompt word today was strut.

Uncornered

    Uncornered

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Corners are the great equalizer, for it is a fact that no matter how large or small the house, every corner is exactly the same size. I remember being so small that I could fit all the way into a corner, right up to where it bent. If I was facing the wall, I could hold my head straight and fit my tongue into the crack that spread out in an L to form the two sides of the corner. If I faced outwards, I felt less punished and more ready to branch out from the corner into the kitchen, perhaps, with the refrigerator to be visited and a cherry popsicle to be collected on my way out into the world of my house.

Lying on my back on the purple living room rug––a floor that, although it extended to each corner of the room, had no actual corners itself. No chance of punishment. Facing downwards on the rug was entertainment: playing jacks or putting together a picture puzzle, moving paper dolls around their world of Kleenex box furniture, pot and pan swimming pools and matchbox coffee tables. In this paper universe were treasures purloined from the jewelry boxes of our mothers. Rhinestone bracelets became flapper necklaces and ruby-colored rings bangle bracelets. A folding fan stretched from side-to-side of the corner became the dressing room where Debra Paget donned her dressing gown, slipping out of her red paper high heels.

In the corner of my sister’s closet was the little cave I’d carved out of the shoe boxes and cardboard boxes of cast-off toys. There I’d wait for her to arrive home with friends in tow, to eavesdrop on their conversations in hopes of finding out who the boy was who had called her on the phone and hung up without identifying himself when he asked if she was there and I’d said no, she was out on a date. I might discover what she was going to give me for my birthday or hear any of the interesting secrets shared by girls four years my senior. But instead, it was the corner I fell asleep in, to wake up hours later when my mother called us down to supper.

“Where’s Judy?” I heard her ask my sister from the bottom of the stairs.

“She’s not up here,” I heard my sister answer as she went hop skipping down the stairs, two at a time. Even after I heard the door close at the bottom of the stairs, I stayed quietly where I was, barely breathing.

Five minutes later, I heard my sister clomping up the stairs again—looking in every room, the bathroom, under beds, in every closet except her own—I guess because she knew I couldn’t be there since she’d been in her own room for the hour before supper. I stayed quiet, giggling inside.

After my sister went downstairs,  I sneaked quietly out into the hall and down the stairs in my stocking feet, then creaked open the door and went running around the corner into the kitchen and dinette to take my usual place at the table—on the bench against the wall.

“Where were you?” my sister asked, “You weren’t anywhere!”

“It’s a secret!” I answered, and to this day, my whereabouts that day are an unsolved family mystery.

“Where was she?” They ask each other. Then, “Where were you?” they ask me again, but try as they may, no one has ever cornered me to give an answer.

For the Word Press Weekly Photo Prompt–Corner.  The photo is by my sister Betty Jo.  The commentary is a story formerly blogged by me.

Dental Retaliation

 

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Dental Retaliation

Do you remember toothbrushes lined up on a rack
in the medicine cabinet, at the mirror’s back?
Your father’s brush was ocean blue, your mother’s brush was green,
your sister’s brush the reddest red that you had ever seen,
whereas your brush’s handle had no color at all—
as though it was the ugliest sister at the ball.

How you yearned for color, reaching for your brush
as the first summer’s meadowlark called to break the hush
of the early morning while you were sneaking out
to be the first one out-of-doors to see what was about.
Making that fast decision, your hand fell on the red,
thinking your sister wouldn’t know, for she was still abed.

You put toothpaste upon it, wet it at the tap
and ran the brush over each tooth as well as every gap.
Each toothbrush flavor was different, your older sis had said,
so you thought it would be different brushing your teeth with red.

Your father’s brush was blueberry, your mother’s brush was mint.
Your sister’s luscious cherry—its flavor heaven-sent.

“But because you are adopted,” your sister had the gall
to tell you, “they gave you the brush with no flavor at all.”
You waited to taste cherries, but that taste never came.
That red brush tasted like toothpaste. It tasted just the same
as every other morning when you brushed with yours.
You heard your sister stir upstairs, the squeaking of the floors.

You toweled off her toothbrush and hung it in the rack
and started to run out the door. Then something brought you back.
You opened up the mirror and grabbed her brush again.
A big smile spread across your face—a retaliatory grin.
The dread cod liver oil stood on the tallest shelf.
You were barely big enough to reach it for yourself.

You dipped her toothbrush in it, then quickly blew it dry.
Replaced it, shut the cabinet, and when you chanced to spy
your own reflection in the glass, each of you winked an eye.
Then you ran out to cherry trees to catch the first sunbeam
and brush your teeth with cherries while you listened for her scream.

Yes, we really did have a cherry orchard behind our house. You can see the trees peeking up behind the wild rose bushes directly behind the trellis in the picture above. This is my older sister Patti and I.  Yes, she really did tell me I was adopted. (I wasn’t.) No, I never did smear her toothbrush with cod liver oil. The retaliation part is just a mental one, sixty-some years too late, I’m afraid. She has since redeemed herself.

The prompt today is toothbrush.

Rare Bird

My gardener’s youngest son Ishmael is a rare bird. First of all, he’s rarely seen, as he is extremely shy. He has also in the past been frightened of my dogs, me, all of the kids at school, his teacher and anyone who isn’t a parent or brother. Over the past year, I’ve been trying to curry his favor with coloring books, toys, balls to throw for the dog and most recently, an Easter Egg hunt that involved both candy and toys.  At first he was shy, hiding behind his parents, but by the end of the time he was here he was rushing around the front garden trying to fill his basket. These photos record some former times, including his first approach to Diego–a very rare occasion! (Click to enlarge photos.)

 

 

The photo prompt this week was “Rare.”

Summer Evenings Turn to Fall

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Summer Evenings Turn to Fall

Back when we drank summer through paper soda straws,
we played cowboys and Indians, hiding out in draws
that we imagined wilder. Our hearts beat with fear
of fictional opponents who might be drawing near.

We had no euphemisms for our enemies.
We only knew our fear of them, silent, on our knees.
Little did we know then, during childhood games,
imaginary enemies would assume other names.

No ditch big enough to hide, and no night dark enough.
No more cops and robbers. No more blind man’s bluff.
Strange that in those peaceful times the games we chose to play
were a mere foreshadowing of what is real today.

Back when summer filled our cheeks with melons and with berries,
why didn’t we fill balmy nights with princesses and fairies?
Back when life was summer smooth, we lusted after roughness,
as though we’d gain maturity through violence and toughness.

Feigning valor not yet gained, we knew not that tomorrow
we’d have the fears we’d feigned for real––the terror and the sorrow.
Childhood evenings filled with shouts and laughter interspersed
were in reflection adult games that we just rehearsed.

 

The picture is my sister Patti and her best friend Karen.  Note the saddle placed on the makeshift “horse.”  

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/summer/

To a Pensive Pre-Teen

(I posted this photo this morning but had appointments all day long until now, when I’m finally posting a poem to go with it. I just now noticed it is my 2,000th post in this blog!!)

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Judy Dykstra-Brown Photo

To a Pensive Pre-teen with Her Toes Curled in the Sand,
Outside the Beachside Cafe with Her Chin Cupped in Her Hand

What might you be dreaming of?
What thoughts have formed your frown,
child sitting on the steps
where ocean meets the town?

Perhaps you do not have a coin
to stay the vendor’s cart
for paletas of strawberry
or guava, cold and tart.

Perhaps you do not wish to stay
and yet you cannot leave.
There are so many stories
that a taleteller could weave.

But the truth is, you’re eleven,
and your parents are inside.
Reason enough for you to choose
the company of the tide.

 

Note: A paleta is an ice cream bar or popsicle.

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pensive/

Closeted

Please go here: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/12/06/uncornered/ to discover what I’ve had to say on the topics of closets!

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/closet/