What happened to the sweet days
where we watched each magnolia blossom open like a hand
and tried to crack rocks open like eggs to find geodes
we had just learned about in science class
back when knowledge wasn’t yet a burden?
What happened to our smiles?
Did we lose them along the dirt path or
amongst the spry bamboo forest
that shot up to the heavens, canopying our stories
of make-believe and adventure?
Did we hide it in a shoebox under our bed
and forget about it as the song
of trying to fit in was a pied piper who called us
to the other side of the River Styx?
Perhaps the grass in our momma’s lawn
really did want to grow, and it wasn’t just
an excuse to not have to mow and
glug down cold lemonade
as we tried to catch our breath, so tired so tired.
Perhaps all we really wanted to do was grow
and not be cut down.
To not have to learn the bittersweet
fragility of everything.
How do we get back there?
Swim backwards in hourglass sands of time
to the lost oasis in the desert?
Everyone tells us that we can’t get back,
that we have to learn who we are
but is it really true that we have to learn
to love ourselves?
Perhaps it is less about learning
and more about unlearning
a world that taught us to hate ourselves
from the curious words on the tip of our tongues
to the offbeat, dancing sway of our hips,
to the dirty soles of our adventurous feet?
Maybe it is about remembering that
dawn approaches every time we try to smile,
and like magnolia blossoms and bamboo dreams
time waits for sunlight to reveal us again
when we finally remember the way home.