When I was FOUR
I knew who I was and who I wasn’t.
I wasn’t Davy Crocket
even though I kept rocks in my pocket
and slung a pretty good wrist rocket
Snap! Snap! SNAP!
I wasn’t the LONE RANGER!
Though I cracked a cinnamon roll of red ribbon Caps!
Tapped large hammers, jagged rocks and cocked revolvers
just to hear the noise and smell that lovely smell.
I wanted real chaps to go with my cowgirl hat
as I roped the smoke and powder
but I wasn’t Little Sure Shot either.
Sure. I had a sword once. A pirate one,
but I never wanted to be Zorro like my son
or Batman like the neighbor boy.
Instead I friended black birds and masked cats.
I was Catgirl for a time.
I thought men in black were bad guys who wore mustaches
but I wan’t afraid of them
No need for fear and rescueing
cuz I was Daddy’s girl.
“Who are they!?” I asked
hanging a question mark finger
Waiting a Mother’s answer
She was facing more than that in choices of maturity.
Who were the bare skinned, long locked, fuzzy faced, sunglassed youth?
“Hippies.” She replied.
“They’re nice,” I said.
“You’re not old enough to understand,” she answered conservatively.
I wanted truth.
She couldn’t give it.
“Flower Power!” the teen-agers shouted from a Pakistani curry corner grocery store.
“Flower Power!” I smiled shyly and waved back
clutching penny candy Sixlets in a sweaty hand.
“Disrespectful kids!” hissed the crosswalk talk
“Shhh,” said my wary mother, gripping the bar tightly.
“Some day you’ll read about it,” said my dad.
I thought from my lowride stroller street seat.
I really liked those big kids
Just couldn’t understand the grown up faces
Dad’s protective stance.
I’m finding more the meaning
Through paint and terra cotta
I gaze into a flowery child-held hand mirror
in wearing grown up reading glasses
I linger here and ponder Flower Power again.
A rose is a rose, I think
Everyone needs identity, voice and wet ink
When I was four I understood
I wanted to read.
More than words I wanted to be “Smart.”
After all that’s what my Mother kept telling me I was.
So I was
Memorizing holy verse and feeling praise
Writing poems to integrity
Befriending Jesus and His ways
Loving on page after page
Retelling into reprint all my Little Golden books
I spent hours Hugging Sunbeams…
And if I chanced to meet a FROWN!
I’d turn it upside down with crooked letter alphabet
Assessment went like this:
(Though, I’m not sure the order. It sometimes changed.)
E…………Ten times ten tea tables and needled record labels!
(Say that five times fast!)
Making and believing Disney Sing alongs
These found place, and space
Filled the longing
Useful was the world I was creating
And then I grew up
to unspoken broken
Never mind fulness
Tucked my sometime child more away
in tight corduroy pockets
like prized tahini tea sets
When I was FOUR
I had my way with life
Music was mine
Cut my own original bell-bottom covers
Voices could swing and sway and hover…..high low
Bounce like a kick-back polka on the Lawrence Welk show
Lyrics spinning lighting fast then swirling slow at 45 and 33 speeds
Me breaking limits before I ever had my first Hotwheels
button starting turn table knobs and elbow loops
On a magical flute and tilt o whirl playground
Scratched and skipped
broke and scritched so many records
And when my brother came along
I grounded him in music too
to playing Hotwheels
Made hot deals with my one man pitstop pitcrew
as the vinyls spun and stacked
a buttered back to back
life was so good
I watched in wonder
as the singles flipped
I ran and sang and finger painted myself
from tan to Rocky Point deep blue
in cottony ponytails
I laughed the laugh of freedom
Free to be free
to be … me
Then one day
Little Mommy put her dolls to bed
to dance with Kitty
soft and purrrfect.
Everything right and beautiful
suddenly went wrong
in innocent mishandling
Up went Kitty
And that was that.
“Kitty’s broken,” my Mother told me.
“But she’ll be well tomorrow,” I thought
She was not.
Life was not the same without that cat play.
It was decided: No more cats for me.
I cried and developed lifelong allergies.
Sad, cuz I might have been a Veteranarian
A Vet is what I wanted best
when I was nine and in fourth grade,
living the pony poster life
in the Lone Star state
of strife and Chiggerville
without a friend except
a baby brother
I learned the song
“Born free….as free as the wind blows
as free as the grass grows
Born free to follow my heart.”
The last line stuck with me.
like stickers in an endless grassland
hung my longing heart
Savahnah soft were words
they filled me with solace
From that day on
I read with the speed of the cheetah
and I was Queen
But When I was FOUR…
I don’t remember wanting to be anything
but happy ME
I didn’t want to hold anything
and my Mother’s love.
I guess two out of three ain’t bad
better than some test scores.
When I was FIVE I caught a Small Pox tattoo.
I went for booster shots
and just before the trauma, I met a working cat
who gave me spots and turnouts
His name was Pickles the Fire Cat.
And so I started playing School and Firehouse
I learned a firetruck song
Some days you’ll find me singing still
Fifty years later
I’m remembering these games
give or take a plastic helmet
Cuz somewhere along the fireline
I thought it would be fine to be a teacher
Sometimes I am the ICO
Sometimes the engineer
between the fire lines
where I’ve secured a hydrant
and a safe scene
an endless supply of smiles and tears
and lots of children
The recess bell rings FREEEDOM!
I land a three-point shot
the ball swirls round
I cheer the children. They cheer me.
For fifteen minutes I’m that child again
I blow a pretty pinwheel
chasing pain and joy
four and five and nine
in finding who I am
and needing wisdom