All There Was

in the treetops
on ballfields
and head high meadows
knee deep in pond water
fists full of willow branches
that couldn’t hold my weight
when I swung out over the warm water
alive with water striders and bull-frog bark

in these places
I was a child
I was nearsighted
even though I am farsighted

I knew only the electricity
of crickets and cicadas
in thick summer night

I knew only scraped
knees and thighs
and the smell of lime chalked
dirt diamonds surrounded
by shaggy grass and yellow flowers

I knew only right-field at first
and the song that all right fielders sing
during the stillness of a line-up dominated
by right-handed nine year old hitters
“Momma had a baby but her head popped off”

I knew only these things
yet I knew it all
for this was all there was

when I was a child
there were two seasons,
baseballs and snowballs
pond water and pond ice

when I was a child
there were friends
and there were bullies

there were big kids
and small kids

there were games
and there were fights
when I was a child
I was in heaven

then I got old
and went back to heaven
and found
suburbia
and in the face of
its sameness forgot
so much of what was good

about what the land
and the life was like
before so many more houses
and shopping centers
and sidewalks

when a giant concrete crater
in the earth was a battle field
and dirt piles on both sides of the hole
were bases and clods were bombs
that took you out of the game
but not life

when I got old the battlefields became
foundations on which
this suburban smear was built

whet I got old someone sang
me a song that said,
“all the grownups say, ‘grow-up’
and in time, I will, grow up in time
to be a child again”

and again I am on iceskates
on frozen green pond ice
and beneath it are bubbles
reminders of so many snapping turtles
bullfrogs and the leeches we salted
off of our ankles
when after falling
from the willow trees
we swam
despite what we knew
we weren’t supposed to do
we swam
and were children
in a magic place
far far away

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