Reminiscing (to my best friend)
by Mari Nichols-Haining
In the grass that dwarfed usSecond Place Winner
behind my childhood home
was a trodden path that led to a launch pad,
where a million rocket ships blasted off
and only two returned. Deeper in,
an old shed held the mysteries of the ancients.
Only ten yards away,
a dinosaur burial ground was discovered
under the same tree that housed
a two-board tree house
Do you remember?
If we sat perfectly still on those boards
with purple towels wrapped just-so around our heads
and our eyes clenched tightly shut,
we could levitate and dance with the birds
for as long as we believed.
And in that space of unbelievable earth
on only one day of each year,
we could channel the freedom
of the last day of school.
There and then,
we'd launch our bicycles at top speed
and blithely commence our summers -
soaring over the city with the carefree happiness
Our grass yellowed with the California summers
and it seemed to grow not-so-tall with each passing year
until the path we trampled disappeared.
Eventually, we traded our bikes for cars -
which wouldn't make the trip.
It's probably gone now; thirty years later
the secrets lost to time.
We forgot to fly together before we left for college.
And I've heard they've put in condos.
Still, you and I are the only souls who know the secret:
the red graffiti on the shed walls
was really thousand-year-old hieroglyphics
carefully crafted by the cavemen of California
as signs for two eight-year-olds
that the world was magical.
We are the only humans to have seen
the invisible rockets in the Los Angeles suburbs,
or the T-Rex in my back yard.
I wonder if our own children have discovered a place
where children levitate and bikes fly.
If they have,
I imagine we'll never know - the magic dust flaked off
when we began to worry about babies and bills.
But today I overheard my young son and his friend
solving a mystery by my oak tree,
making a pact to ignore the tree fairies
and to use the lightning bugs
to lead them to gold.
Although we had no pact of silence, we were silent.
And although we didn't agree to forget
I wondered if you had.
Mostly I'm writing because
upon hearing of gold and fairies
hiding in my own back yard
I had to write to tell you
I still remember,
and that our friendship
is still magical.