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.