Early Childhood Poem by Deborah DeNicola

Early Childhood

Hardly a thing I can hold in my hand.
But I recall my small hand
on the polished mahogany table
out on the sun porch where I sometimes
napped on the day bed, my hand
like the pokey part of a compass
when I'd circle the table
for a small eternity each day, hand
holding steady, I'd hum to my parents'
songs as they rose from the monophonic
console: dawn in a one horse town,
the lowing of cattle, yodeling solos.
It wasn't the music that kept me
moving but my own hand mesmerizing
myself, barely tethered to earth beneath me
or the desert outside where heat blistered
my father's roses. Inside and above me,
my big parents came and went
like the sun that ladled its gold
on the tips of mountains, I had no words for
what lifted my vision there, groundless,
airy, clear, even then I leaned away
from the body's downward dropp
where tears went when they fell
into dirt hidden by flowers where animal
bodies were buried. I knew that much
I saw the Rangers shoot and shovel
under the coyote so earth
wasn't comfort or warmth when I wanted
to purl my excursion into the music,
like the vapors of clouds, soaring
around the sky all day, nothing
to hold in my hand, just my hand
and those old songs,
circling lightly
in the dust on the table.

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Deborah DeNicola

Deborah DeNicola

Richland, Washington
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