From our childhood view, the world beyond the front step
Was small and safe. It accepted us, didn’t notice messy strands
Or one loose lace, dog hair on flowered shirts.
But, being saplings, we claimed our days at whims of adults.
Instead of leaping on summer as we would monkey bars,
Climbing it from one end to the other,
You were packed off, steered
In the direction of your mother’s desires.
Your eye, always gazing at its own leftward horizon,
I found exotic and rare.
Your mother judged it less than
Perfect. She could not let be.
Surgeons routinely took turns, speaking of repair
And restoration. Their plans, dead seeds, would not sprout,
No matter how much your mother watered them.
So you kept your mysterious charm;
We laughed at your mother, her idea
Of completing what was already whole.
We ran in woods, stopping to become blood sisters
With the forest, sinking our initials
Into the tender flesh of young trees,
Becoming surgeons ourselves, our tool a father’s pocketknife.
Perhaps you found relief in wielding the instrument,
Cutting with precision.
In later years drink would numb your ancient burdens.
Later still powder and pills rooted you deeper into
Inner quiet. Like any mystic thing, you survived.
I think of you, recall pink and purple envelopes that bound
Together our childish summer days even when your mother’s
Notions took you away from me.
I think of the colony of trees that listened to our laughter
Listened to whispered secret crushes on the same boy.
Do those trees live? Do they carry in their skin the badges we awarded,
Stretched with time’s widening, those letters that name us?
Now, grounded in our own groves we stand, listening,
Leaves growing from our bodies, twigs in our hair,
Sunlight dappling our upturned faces.
Peggy Hammond has spent most of her career teaching college English in North Carolina. Her writing history includes poems published in The Lyricist, Oberon Poetry, and High Shelf. Her full-length stage play, A Little Bit of Destiny, was produced by OdysseyStage Theatre in Durham, NC.
Molly Knobloch is an artist and designer based in East Austin. A creative from day one, she found her love of painting at Tulane University in New Orleans. She works with acrylic paint, oil pastel, pencil and more to create pieces layered with energy and movement that allow viewer to enter and explore.