As a Child
by D. C. Haddock
As a child, I was fond
Of pressing sweaty palms into eyelids
Until that natural, hallucinogenic screen was pulled down by unseen hands
In front of my pupils
Where swirling patterns and bright flashes of light
Were released before me, around me, into me
And life was a natural high.
Now they wait in the shade for a tab
To be pressed surreptitiously into their palms.
As a child, I could pick my way
Under the branches, through the shrubbery, into the foliage
To sit behind my little green pond
Hidden from the world behind Elephant-ear leaves
And the refraction of the sun off the water
Tiny, white plastic feet submerged
Algae weaving through my toes
Entreating me to stay hidden here in my natural habitat
Yet demanding nothing from me.
Now they wait in broken homes, running cars
To bestow upon another their carnal knowledge.
As a child, I rarely woke before the sun
Yet when I did
That celestial beauty would soon raise his head
And bid farewell to the gossamer stars
And eat the pale moon like a Communion wafer
A sacred, ethereal ceremony
That I, and I alone, witnessed.
Now they stay awake each night to stare at the horizon
Bleary-eyed, numbed; but cannot name what they see.
As a child, I could pluck miniature flowers
The white, spongy ones
That were smeared across school fields like litter
And with nothing but the dexterity
Of my petite fingers,
Tie them end to end,
Into streamers that were me a thousand times over
Crowns that bore my primordial regality.
Now, with shaky hands, they spray glue onto their heads
And stain their hair unnatural pigments.
As a child, I could savor clutching to each branch
Revel in the act of climbing
The lattice of a pine tree
Accruing sap in the spaces between my fingers
My palms like strips of fly-tape
My body swaying with the trunk
As I sat on top of the world
Still wondering at how sticky my hands were.
Now they cling in fear to their branches,
Staring at their hands
Wondering if life was supposed to be this viscous.