Once long ago, back when I was innocent as a young chive in a garden, there was a pretty red barn at the foot of a manicured lawn. Above it rose a garden full of lush and leaf-fragrant tomato plants lightly embraced by airy encircling cages, verdant forest-blue broccoli elbowing each others's bulbous buxomity, fully-fledged lettuce ready to fly curly-winged stalks into dayglow adolescent gangles, a many-headed sunflower tracing the path of the sun with each and every yellow-fringed cocoa face, all virile and exploding as Woody Woodpecker's tufts trying to escape a beady bandana headband border of bowling-ball-sized boulders. A matching fire ring sat perfectly correctly in front, and a cube-shaped gray house meditated on the crest of the mound, window eyes mimicking real eyes that gazed out at this bursting scene. Ah, back then, in my white bladder campion flying days - the ones where you can only tell by feeling which is female - my head danced visions of fireflies rising like sparkler star-showers off the hilly hayfields, children wheeling rollerblade and mountainbike circles on traffic-blank blacktop, dogs trotting zig-zags into ditches and meadows whorled with the whispy currents of twilight air, crickets sawing their well-rosined legs like symphonies of fiddlers, while lambs baaed and butted their ewe-mothers in the barnyards. Back then the roadsides doubled as gardens. Chickory mirrored the china sky. Milkweeds sent up proud queenly stems with spatulate velvetized leaves and trembling satellite-like, purple-budded flower balls. Doilies of Queen Anne's lace nodded to dogs and dreamers alike. Bergamot spread a minty scent lavender as its bee-covered blossoms spicy as a priest's sensor. Evening primrose sweetened the air like honey while it buttered the eye like eggs sunny side up. The bristly foxtail and flowing silky squirrel-tail grasses glowed like casinos in the golden low-slung sun. Then I wandered my mind freely as an icy meltwater stream in the belly of a sun-warmed glacier, carving shimmering blue-lighted tunnels anyone would die to pray in. I wandered actually the sinuous backs of serpentine eskers, peered into deep round kettle holes that could hold well more than the gray house, bobbed my eyes like a bouncy ball reading lines of music over kettle and kame cornfields, searched the brow of every well-treed hill for erratic boulder giants - hungry for an edge - and occasionally rested my eyes on the smooth calm flatness of an endless outwash plain. In my head, I made over the whitewashed walls and alleys, the rusted stanchions of the red barn into my glimmering enchanted hideaway replete with one view to the west where a silent highway hid behind a hedge of honey locust and a second to the south where sunlight streamed through leafy cathedrals of grandmother box elders. Back in my eggplant innocent days, I dreamed of lounging comfortable as cats on the kelly lawn, sitting regally as a tom on the radiating stoop, stalking stealthy as any kitten through rabbit-pathed alfalfa fields, lying in piles of my feline friends at night, snuggling the breast of my mother whenever she lay to rest. Ah, back then in my sweet corn summer, the sky was ever blue as periwinkle; cottontail clouds puffed into calves and puppies, lizards, dragons, and the bodies of goddesses; cows contentedly chewed their cuds submerged to the udders in cool chocolate-brown ponds; the air peeled the churchbells of laughing children; the farmyard cradled sacred space. Then, suddenly, like a TV image gone haywire, this place that was soft as bat's breath, palpable as humidity, desired as the hot tomato and the cool cucumber, flipped off its square, flattened, tilted, and was gone. And, even in my mind's eye, the rolling greens of the heat-soaking corn, the all-embracing leaf-lucious maples and oaks that loved the roads and me with their well-rounded shade, the luxurious pumpkin-wealthy garden and horse-radish-wracked roadsides, the belly-filling, hay-mown, cowpie scents of summer, and the warbling waterfall trills of screech-owls deep in the quiet of the late-night woods are sucked away like every delicious dream is at waking too soon to the radio sound of morning. It all disappears in the distance of my receding memory like a paradise in the rear-view mirror of a speeding car. That magic summer and the me that was in it is done. The road twists on toward winter.
| Mary Mullen|
Aug. 2-25, 1996, July 11, 1997