December 22, 2007

Praise for an Alley Child

I taste my name, my name's song
the way I heard it framed as three
by nine brothers and sisters:
of Baltimore, hopscotch and hoolahoop,
too shy not to clasp my sister Lou's hand
until I warmed to wiggling in the loop till it dropped,
hopping on one foot inside thick chalk lines,
blocking out the squeals
of every age a child could be
who slammed forth from the rowhouse doors
jump rope smacking cement
until noise became the song,
carried me back to a locked room saved
by writing poems of back lawns bright in the afternoon:
bees thirsting after roses pressed
against a fence; buttercups we could pluck
with two fingers;
always, children chasing after
the jing-a-ling of an ice cream truck;
Ma's pies cooling in a window;
sun glistening off the metal gates
before moving away
where leaves had pushed through
like words from the flowering chest kept secret
except on paper. Song of myself.
How I yearned to wear red lipstick
the older girls wore.

—Kathleen Adcock
previously appeared in Moon, Trumpet and Guitar

Posted by dwaber at December 22, 2007 04:28 PM