Category Archives: poem about childhood

Confession to an Errant Grandchild

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Confession to an Errant Grandchild

From the first, I called you “Piggy,” my small bundle in a poke.
You grew into a ham, as though you got the silly joke.
In return, you called me “Brammer,” for your whole younger life.
I ignored your teenage insolence, which cut me like a knife.

For years, you called me nothing, while off roaming with your friends.
I waited for your twenties, when you would make amends.
Those foggy baby early years, I’d held you in my arms,
your most ardent admirer, a captive of your charms.

When your parents fussed, I was always on your side.
Made cookies for your naughty friends, embraced your errant bride.
Wiped your babies’ noses, patted their small behinds,
as they toddled off to school, observed from behind blinds.

 So many decades later, sitting by my bed,
not knowing it was just a cold, fearing I’d soon be dead,
you asked why I was always there and why I didn’t balk
at your teenage indifference and your dismissive talk.

What was germane to the matter, I finally confessed,
was a truth which on your own you might have never guessed.
As I observed the recklessness of you and your rude crew,
In every naughty act, I saw a bit of me in you.

Prompt words today are brammer, germane, foggy, ardent and joke.

Rubber Boots

Rubber Boots

All the flowers are crying, their petals streaming drops
inherited from rivers flooding over troughs
running up above them, collecting all the streams
that run down the roof top and across the beams.

The rainfall is most copious. It kisses windowpanes
with countless fractured raindrops, each falling where it deigns.
If this were not a school day, I’d run about outside.
This staying inside looking I cannot abide.

I’d rather splash in puddles, damming off the flood
with my rubber rain boots, crushing down the mud
to form private embankments to stem the rushing tide.
What an unfair punishment, this keeping me inside.

Reading, maths and spelling cannot hold my attention,
for I have these new rubber boots I am driven to mention.
I can’t wait ’til recess so I can try them out,
for in rainy weather, splashing’s what it’s about!!!!

 

Prompts today are “a flower cried,school, crush, copious and kiss.

Photo Credits: Red boots by Rupert Brooks , blue boots by markus Spiske, both on Unsplash, used with permission.

Collecting Myself

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Collecting Myself

My juvenile aspirations were not like any others––
my idols not my parents or my sisters or my brothers.
I wanted to be different, intrepid and exploring
regions and activities less mainstream and less boring.
I felt my whole identity tied up in what I did,
but my friends had just a glimpse of me–for most of me just hid,
waiting for a time when the world would want to see
all that biggest part of me that was really me.

When it finally happened, I came out bit by bit,
each part coming into view as I discovered it
through doing and by trying, by traveling and proving.
It seems I only sloughed off walls as I kept on moving.
Parts of me found here and there in every varied clime.
I’m still finding parts of me up to the present time.
Daughter, friend and lover, writer, artist, wife––
to discover all of them is what creates a life.

 

Today’s prompts are intrepid, differ, glimpse, juvenile and identity.

Summer

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Summer

Days spread like an Indian blanket in the grass
and those carnival nights.
Anxious sorties into unknown parts of town.

Feeling my number up as the wild sisters
kicked me all the way home
to what they called my posh neighborhood.

Yearned-for months
let out of school,
my continuing education.

The prompts today were posh, number, carnival and anxious.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/rdp-saturday-posh/

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/09/22/fowc-with-fandango-number/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/carnival/

https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/daily-addictions-2018-week-37/anxious

For Country School Children Perished in the Prairie Blizzard of ’52

For Country School Children Perished in the Prairie Blizzard of ’52

Cruel winds dispersed the swirling white
to cover up the prairie light.
They felt its cruel keening bite
clinging to them, clear and bright
as they, too, disappeared from sight.

By the time the storm had reached its height,
not one survived to tell her plight.
They found them on that snow-banked night—
arms raised aloft with hands held tight—
two sisters lost to nature’s might.

I had heard the story of the two little Judd girls who froze to death attempting to get home from their country school just North of my home town of Murdo, South Dakota, when a blizzard hit, but I had always thought it happened long before I was born.  In checking the facts, however, I discovered it was during the blizzard of ’52, when I was four years old—the same blizzard I’ve described twice on my blog. No electricity, my dad trying to get to his cattle to break the ice on their water tanks, all of use sleeping huddled around the fireplace in the living room, tunneling down main street to get into stores, stepping out of my second-story window onto a snowbank. My parents must have shielded me from the story of the two little girls—one three years older than I was, the other my sister’s  age—until I was older, although my sister Patti, who is four years older than me, has since told me she knew at the time and that she had played with the two little girls at the home of their cousins, who lived in town. Here their story is told briefly, in two five-line stanzas. The prompt from dVerse Poets was to write a five-line poem. So, I cheated a bit.

Almost Holy

My sister Patti and I, all dressed up for church and told to smile, no doubt! Photo by sister Betty 

 

Almost Holy

I always wanted a set of those panties that had a day of the week embroidered on each one, but I grew up in an era when kids didn’t ask for things.  I know my mom would have bought them for me if she’d known, or my grandma would have ceased her endless activity of sewing sequins on felt butterflies or crocheting the edges of pillow shams long enough to embroider the days of the week onto the baggy white nylon panties jumbled into my underwear drawer. I never asked, though.  Never told.

So it was that on Sunday I’d arise and put on the same old underpants, cotton dress with ruffle, white socks, patent leather shoes. I’d take a little purse no bigger than the makeup case in the suitcase-sized purse I now carry. Into it I’d drop a quarter my dad had given me for the collection, a hanky and the lemon drop my mother always put inside just in case of a cough. I never coughed, but always ate the lemon drop, sucking on it during Sunday School and sometimes asking for another from the larger supply in her purse during church.

Why my mom never sang in the choir I don’t know.  She had a fine true voice.  Both of my older sisters did and so did I, once I was in high school.  I remember when I was little watching the choir in their fine robes that looked like they were graduating every Sunday.  They sat facing us, in three rows to the preacher’s left, as though checking up on us to make sure we didn’t misbehave or yawn or chew gum.  In addition to lemon drops, my mother always carried Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum in her purse.  Sometimes the gum was a bit red  from the rouge she always had on her fingertips on days she applied makeup. It seemed to me like the rouge flavored the gum a bit.  It tasted of clove and flowers.

“Just hold it in your mouth,” my mother instructed, my sister and me; and if we chewed, she would take it away from us. “Just chew it enough to make it soft and then hold it in your mouth.”  This was an almost impossible challenge for a child and actually even for a teenager.  By then, we’d learned to crack the gum and to blow bubbles even when it wasn’t bubble gum.  That fine pop and final sigh of air as the bubble broke–so satisfying. The threat and memory of everything we could be doing with that gum resided in each small wad of it held in our cheeks as we sat lined up like finely dressed chipmunks listening to the minister drone on.

Hymns were like the commercial breaks on television–a chance to move around a bit and look at something other than the preacher–to ponder the curious lyrics such as, “Lettuce gather at the river,” “Bringing in the sheets” and “Let me to his bosom fly.”  (Just what was a bosom fly and what had lettuce and collecting sheets from the clothesline to do with religion? Once again, we didn’t ask.)

Then we’d sit down again for the Apostle’s Creed or a prayer or benediction or the interminable expanse of the sermon–half an hour with no break.  I’d listen to the drone of the flies buzzing in circles at the window, or the sound of cars passing in the summer, when the front and back doors were left open to encourage  breeze where no breeze existed.

Now and then a curious dog would wander in and be ushered out by the man who stood at the door to hand out church programs.  Everyone would hear the scramble of dog toenails on the wooden aisle and turn to watch and laugh.  Even the minister would laugh and say say something like, “All of God’s creatures seek to commune with him upon occasion.”  Then everyone would laugh softly again before he turned his attention back to telling us what was wrong with us and how to remedy it.

That afternoon, Lynnie Brost and I were going to play dress up and have a tea party under the cherry trees and bury a treasure there.  We’d already assembled it: my mom’s old ruby necklace, a handful of her mom’s red plastic cancer badges shaped like little swords with a pin at the back to put on your collar to show you’d given to the campaign,  my crushed penny from the train track, her miniature woven basket from South America that her missionary sister had brought her, a tattered love comic purloined from her older sister. (We’d “read” it first–which at our age meant looking at the pictures.)

I fell asleep thinking of what else we could add to our cache, to be dug up again in ten years or for as long later as we could stand to put off exhuming it. I leaned against my mother as I slept, and if she noticed, she did nothing to awaken me.  She shook me a bit, gently, as the congregation stood after the sermon, singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” as the minister marched down the aisle, smiling and greeting parishioners and the choir followed him, as though they were being let out early for good behavior.  At the door, we greeted the preacher again, standing in line to shake hands and be blessed, then ticked off his mental list of who had been among the faithful on this fine summer day when they could have been out mowing the grass or rolling in the piles of grass emptied from the clipping bag.

Then we drove the block home, for no one ever walked in a small town.  Well done rump roast for dinner, as we called the noon meal. Mashed potatoes, brown gravy, canned string beans, a salad with homemade Russian dressing and ice cream or jelly roll for dessert.  All afternoon to play. Another small town South Dakota Sunday of an endless progression strung out from birth to age eighteen, when I departed for college and the rest of my Agnostic life.

 

This is an essay from almost 5 years ago. Hopefully, you’ve either not been reading my blog for that long or you’ve forgotten it and it will read like new, as it did for me. I missed the boat when it came to religion, but it wasn’t for lack of experience. The prompt today is almost.

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.