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“Ring Around the Rosie” for my sister’s birthday & a backyard production of “Cowboys.”
“Annie I Over,” ” New Orleans.”
In shorts or dresses or cutoff jeans,
we ran and threw and played and shouted.
our pent-up energy thus outed.
“Send ‘Em,” “Ditch ‘Em,” “Cops and Robbers.”
“Poor Pussy” turned us into sobbers.
Do you remember these childhood games?
All vastly varied, with different names?
Before TV or internet,
games were as good as one could get
for transport from reality.
Back when we were cellphone-free,
“Drop the Handkerchief” we knew well
along with “Farmer in the Dell.”
“London Bridge” went falling down
each birthday party in our town.
All the long-lit summer nights
“Cowboys and Indians” staged their fights.
“Cops and Robbers” led to searches
of school ditches and behind churches.
The whole town our playing ground,
each chid lost, each child found
in hours long games of “Hide-and-Seek.”
Count to one hundred. Do not peek!
In childhood games of girls and boys,
imaginations were our toys.
Does such magic now reside
in minds of children safe inside
their cushioned worlds of rumpus rooms,
sealed safe within their houses’ wombs?
For dangers real now lurk in places
that formerly hid playmates’ faces.
Safety dictates different measures
for insuring childhood pleasures.
But oh, I remember so well
joyful flight and heartful swell
of friends pursuing through the dark
back then when life was such a lark.
Now children seek play differently
on cellphone screens and Smart TV,
scarce imagining a world
with internet not yet unfurled.
Our world had not yet been corrupted
with connections interrupted
with wireless servers on the blink,
for we needed no further link
than friends pounding upon our door
to come outside and play some more!
This is a rerun of a piece from two years ago.http://www.napowrimo.net/day-sixteen-5/
The prompt: write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up
Want to see these little faces better? Click on any photo and then on right arrows.
— Ilsa, damp and determined.
This little girl is Ilsa, the daughter of Ellie, the young lady who comes to clean my rental house once a week. Last year Ilsa was very shy and either hid behind her mother or sat in a corner playing with her phone whenever I tried to talk to her. This year, however, at the mature age of 4, she is an affectionate chatterbox, following me around, chatting me up, smiling a lot, even before I gave her the red licorice that she seemed not to realize she could chew and swallow. An hour after I gave it to her, she was still sucking on the end,, her lips stained with what looked like a very unskillful application of red lip gloss Staying near. When I heard her humming, I asked if she knew any songs. She proceeded to sing a very involved song that lasted at least five minutes. Either she was making it up or has an excellent memory. It was in Spanish, so I didn’t follow it as my mind tunes out and I forget to listen closely enough to try to make out the lyrics.
Afterwards, we talked about cars and dogs and cats and crocodiles and I showed her photos of Morrie on my computer. Her mother called her in twice, telling her to let me work (on blogging) but each time she eventually came back out to stand near and smile and talk and smile and play cocoon with the hanging towels and sheets that hung all around me on lines strung across the porch. Finally, she wrapped herself in a damp-sheet hanging on the line near me and started singing the same three-word line over and over again. I strained to hear it. It sounded like “Hunta para siete,” so I Google translated, but got no answer. She came close, touched my arm and continued to sing it, over and over. When I asked her mom what it could mean, she had no idea. Then, suddenly, I heard it correctly and with the correct spelling. She was singing “Junta para siempre”—“Together forever.” How sweet is that?
When she and her mom left, almost immediately, another little girl walked up to the steps leading up from the sand and climbed up to my porch. Fresh from the ocean, still in her suit, she dripped water from suit, hair and body. In one hand she held a strand of long black hair, sucking on the tip.
She is the little girl who last year had entered the house, poured four cups of dogfood into Morrie’s dish and locked him inside his cage with it. She was also the little girl who would let him off his long lead every time she walked by the porch, freeing him to come play with her on the beach. When their play ceased, she left him to run free, with several potentially dangerous situations arising. So, it became necessary for me to never put Morrie out on his own. It was a very limiting plan–for me. I ended up not going on any of the day excursions Tess and Rita and John planned because… I had to stay home with Morrie
I gave Elsie the sad news that Morrie wasn’t here this year and neglected, on purpose, to tell her I had a cat with me and she eventually climbed down the stairs and slipped away like the accomplished little cat burglar she is. No, I didn’t tell her I had a cat along with me this year.
Elsie, wet and wily.
Sharing Mr. Teddy
Caught in baby’s neck creases, clinging to Grandpa’s cuff,
escaped from Mr. Teddy are these little bits of fluff.
These airborne little clumps of fuzz go anywhere they please.
They catch in Daddy’s nose hairs, causing him to sneeze.
They wind up in the pancakes–an artistic swirl of blue.
A few of them are tracked outside under Billy’s shoe.
When he climbs onto the school bus, they go along with him,
and everywhere that Mommy goes, to grocery store or gym,
a piece of Teddy comes along to be left behind
somewhere in the wide wide world, but he doesn’t mind.
He has so many fluffy parts that he can share a few.
And when you come to visit, you can take some home with you!!
The prompt today was fluff.
I’d just received my school’s math prize and my Uncle Jimmy, after handing me a twenty dollar bill, had, in his usual self-effacing manner, proclaimed that I must have gotten my smarts from him. “How is it that you are both the pretty one and the smart one in your family?” He teased. My sister Eleanor was out of the room at the time. If she’d been there and I hadn’t, he would have been proclaiming her the prettiest. We all knew this about our uncle. He adored us, and was not above flattery in revealing the fact.
This time, however, he had overlooked both the precociousness and competitiveness of my two-and-a-half-year-old youngest sister, Stephanie.
“Elebben, eight, twenny, fiteen,” she recited proudly!
“Well, forgive me, Missy. Aren’t you a smart young lady, knowing how to count?” He reached into his lumpy pocket and tossed her a nickel. Amazingly, she caught it. Perhaps she was going to be the first athletic one in the family.
“Fohty-two!” she exclaimed proudly. “free, sebben-elebben, one, one, one.” This time he extracted his wallet, took out a one-dollar bill and handed it to her. Putting his wallet back in his back pocket, he turned one side pocket inside out. “But that’s it, Teffie. No more money. If you want to go on counting, it will have to be for free.”
His other pocket still bulged with its contents: coins, a rubber ball to throw for our dog Pudge, oatmeal cookie bits in a small plastic bag–also for Pudge. My Uncle Jimmy always proclaimed that doggie treats were a real gyp and that no self-respecting dog would perform for such a dry, tasteless mouthful. So, he preferred to bake his own dog treats.
My sisters and I agreed, and sometimes we would perform, hoping to be rewarded with one of Pudge’s treats. We were all constantly performing for our uncle, whom we adored. He was the one person who paid more attention to us than to our parents when he visited. He was our favorite babysitter, and our parents’ favorite as well, as he always waved away payment.
He would take us to Fern’s Cafe for strawberry malts, greasy hamburgers and mashed potatoes and gravy, since Fern didn’t have a French fryer. He took us for wild rides over cow pastures in his beat up old red Ford pickup. Once he took us to a matinee cartoon show in Pierre, sixty miles away, and got us home and in bed again before my folks got home. We were sworn to secrecy and so far as I know, none of us ever told. I know for sure I didn’t. My Uncle Jimmy had my undying loyalty. I would have borne torture before giving away any of his secrets.
Sadly, Uncle Jimmy died during one of those wild rides across the South Dakota prairie. This time he was flying solo over a dam grade and veered too far to the right, rolling the pickup. He drowned trying to get out of the passenger door, the pickup mired driver-side down in the mud at the bottom of the dam. We had always felt like such ladies as Uncle Jimmy graciously got out of his pickup to personally open the door from the outside for us. We didn’t know then, as we know now, that it was a peculiarity of that door that it would only open from the outside.
“Thank God the girls weren’t with him,” my mother sobbed to my father, as they sat side-by-side at the kitchen table, my dad’s arms around her. It was past midnight, and they were sitting in that room furthest away from our bedrooms, thinking we wouldn’t hear her sobs. But, unable to sleep, we had stolen out to the living room to listen––all consumed by that missing of Uncle Jimmy that would last our whole lives.
“Oh, he never would have driven that wildly if the girls were with him,” my dad said. But Eleanor and I and even Steffie just exchanged that look that we were to exchange so many times in our future lives together––that look that children exchange that would tell their parents that they know something their parents don’t know––if only their parents took the time to notice. Even Steffie understood. And Uncle Jimmy was right when he proclaimed her wise beyond her years. Even Steffie never told.
(This is a work of fiction.)
The prompt today was recite. (A repost of a story from a few years ago.)
Day one of Campamento Estrella (Camp Star) In San Juan Cosala, Jalisco, Mexico was a huge success. The point of the camp is to make each child feel like a star, and this year the counselors seemed to feel pretty happy as well. Art, poetry, dance, games, studying about the history of their town and how to improve it, kind treatment of animals and health and hygiene are all stressed this year. Friday will culminate in a performance and refreshments for parents and other family members. This is our third year for this camp. Thanks once again to Agustin for playing such a vital part as well as providing the garden area of Viva Mexico for us to use for the camp.
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