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The Summerhood Child

by Jason J. Marchi about a month ago in sad poetry

When Childhood Memories Come Home

The Davis Barn, August 2021

I heard a rumble from far and deep

A train approaching that broke my sleep

in a hammock strung between

two August trees—

Its horn when wailed, did yesterday hail

revealing my lost childhood to me.

And suddenly I recalled

as from this sleep, I crawled—

two boys like small shadows playing,

for endless summers ever praying.

In falling-leaf circles ran their leaps

floated up on jumps, sank back on feet—

I hoped that I could join them

but their bodies were all too cloud and wind

and their faces kept eluding me

but I thought I saw their grins.

The Davis barn enticed their feet

to climb the pungent bails—

to gather hay inside their sneakers

and poke skin between their toes.

In the hayloft above they discovered

the props of the annual Little Folks Fair

stored inside the musty belly

of this red-wooden dragon.

Little Miss Muffet’s tuffet and

the old woman’s giant shoe-slide,

the puppet stage, the pony cage—

And a tall old grandfather clock

its pendulum still, no tick no tock

no climbing mice, no striking hour—

Just the breath of fermenting must

mixed by boys disturbing dust.

Then I saw their ghostly shapes

propped against a split-rail fence—

and heard their voices counting clouds,

noting shapes—as this day came suddenly to life

from all the hours of yesteryear folded and placed

in the cedar-lined bureau of memory.

As the days turned to dusk

and the summers ended

now too far from fantasy

those two boys became up-ended.

With utter completeness, both boys are gone

and so early, one gone for good—

the one I called the Summerhood Child.

He lived the make-believe years

the best of any child—

and I got to share each fun, each fight,

and as a bonus, I chanced the privilege

to remember and to write.

I know too soon I must join him

when my life journey has reached its end—

until then I still haunt those yards and streets—

I hear the ghosts of yesternoon’s children

running for the bells of the Good Humor man—

I’m still friends with that ancient sun

that licked alongside a dozen red tongues.

And on certain days when I stop below the tree

that held the boards of an old fort and see

the last remaining sign—

a single weathering board nailed up high

trying so hard to touch the sky—

all the scenes of childhood loves

come back to eyes and ears and heart.

And I walk by his old house

that seems to hold still

in those days when Cisco and Pancho

rode bicycle horses, twirling tree-branch guns.

Decades have passed

yet the summer neighborhood still moves

still runs with life, with love—

with new children who come and grow and go—

and the trains still fly past the neighborhood

at ninety miles-an-hour—

yes, the sleek and silver and power-filled trains

carrying the faces of strangers

who never knew of the small world we called home

that belonged to me

and the Summerhood Child.

sad poetry

Jason J. Marchi

Jason is a newspaper reporter and fiction writer. His books include: Ode on a Martian Urn, The Legend of Hobbomock-The Sleeping Giant, The Growing Sweater, and Venus Remembered. Jason lives in his childhood home, in Guilford, Connecticut.

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