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Childhood Asterisk

Inside the child is the asterisk
inside the girl is a spark
Come inside it's much too late
doves are nesting in the eaves of roofs
little children are getting ready for bed-time
princes and princesses are kissing one another

I once had a birthday in a bomb shelter
The sparkles on the cake were impossibly brilliant against the cold, dark background
I sometimes think those sparklers were my 5 year-old imagination
It was at the mansion, my Grandfather's home
there were many rooms
one room was filled with junk:
a german typewriter, old copies of 'Time' magazine, the stopper of a crystal craft seemed like a diamond to me
Outside a bird was decaying, caught in the nets of a strawberry patch. I still remember its life-less feathers, the injustice.

I've scratched myself
in the blackberry patch
my cousin sees the blood
flow down my knee
and makes a noise of pure sympathy
so you do care! so you do care!
I let his love for me melt on my tear-burst eyes

Gather us inside
the stars are setting
and the path near the river is thin and steep
An old lady is visiting and I ask where her friend is
she points to the ceiling
I think she means she's resting upstairs
no, she's passed away she tells me
she's pointing to heaven
'Will I pass away too? '
'Yes, but only after a very long time when you're very old.'
This is okay because I've already made a pact to be a child forever
And the feathered doonas in the spare room smell like the 1940s when my Grandparents eloped
my mother tucks me in, we're all retiring here for the night.

In the morning my mother clips my hair
with special hair ornaments from Hawaii
I ask her the botanical name of a snap-dragon
I used to know all the personal names of flowers
like Rimbaud 'I believed in all kinds of magic'
It will return when you come for me
when you come it will return
and we'll be dizzy from spinning down the hill slopes
and I'll show you 'round the gardens
and you kiss me like a child super-imposed into an adult
and I tenderly return the kiss
like I am returning an enchanting library-book on moths and butterflies
and who knows when I'll have the chance to be able to borrow it again.

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4/16/2021 6:21:01 AM #