Port Deposit 1965

When I was very small I had a friend
Whom I called Ducky, which was apropos
Because he was. My sister would pretend
That he was just a toy; he wasn’t, though.
To prove to her that Ducky could, too, swim,
I filled the tub and Ducky spun around
In small, concentric circles. Jeering him,
My sister said, “If he’s alive, he’s drowned!”
You see, I used to hold him by the throat
And all his vertebrae were so relaxed
He couldn’t lift his head, so, like a boat
With one oar dipped, his way-making was taxed.
I swore he’d swum; my sister called me liar.
My mommy warmed up Ducky in the dryer.

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The Girl In The Box

The box stood open on the floor
Her mom and dad were at the door
When inspiration hit her: Hide!
She pulled the lid shut from inside
And giggling with three-ful glee
Imagined her folks’ faces: She
Had disappeared! And as her aunt
And uncle both admit they can’t
Imagine where their niece has gone
Oh, how her mom will carry on
And Daddy will be so concerned
And when she pops out they’ll have learned
That she is quite the cleverest
Of girls: She’d built herself a nest
They couldn’t find, though it was right
There on the carpet, in plain sight!

Her uncle pulled the front door open;
Gigglebox Girl huddled, hopin’
Nobody could hear her snorts;
Her aunt and uncle, both good sports,
Confessed elaborately they
Were clueless how she’d slipped away:
We looked and looked, but, shock of shocks,
She’s nowhere! Help us move this box
And we’ll pull up the rug to see
If– Boy, that’s heavy. Wait! Could she…?

Her father lifted up the lid
And peeked inside to find his kid
But she was gone! Her husk remained
But she’d whisked off to dreamland, drained
The restless spirit from her corpus,
Sent it swimming like a porpoise
Through the waves of slumber’s sea
Cavorting and exploring, free
To find its way like Ariel,
The mermaid whom she loved so well
And whose red hair the box girl shared
Though, oftener, hers was compared
To Shirley Temple’s for the curls
That fell about her face in swirls….

Twenty years have passed. Today
When Box Girl thrusts the lid away,
Unfolds her limbs and rubs her face,
The transformation that took place
While she in UMW
Cocooned herself at last is through
And Hilary, no longer curled,
Bravely steps into the world,
Aunt and Uncle beam with pride:
The little girl who crawled inside
That box so many years ago
To giggle, hide, sleep, dream and grow
Is wide awake, and soon, it seems,
We’ll all be awed by Box Girl’s dreams.