Cousins, what has happened to us?
When was the last time we got lost on purpose
by the sippy hole and turned it into a world of make-believe,
a castle of cypress knees, woven playhouses of pine boughs and twine,
caught out until near dark, pockets full of arrowheads,
flushing doves and bobwhites among the sunflowers with our noisy feet?

I remember who we were, before "life"
got in the way, growing between us wider than miles,
that fifteen minute drive becoming fifteen years of living
past one another, taking detours around
instead of through each other's lives.

What was it like? We wild children
chasing butterflies, reading rainbows on the wall,
chewing deer jerky with our uncle,
creating caricatures of our aunt in crayon under the stairs,
hunting mushrooms below the pines at the fencerow,
walking mosquito-bit hours along frontage roads.

Where did we earn our nostalgia?
Grandpa's orchard. Grandma's sewing room.
Fish fries and ice cream socials. Polka and bluegrass.
Thanksgiving singing along with O Brother, Where Art Thou?
in seven part harmony and three guitars.

I remember what we were, before we learned how
to be busy, to want without doing,
to wish without asking and miss without saying -
before we invented
the concept of free time
and not having any.

The old broken-down basement couch sagging
with our combined weight
as we clambered all over it,
an imaginary magma floor to be leapt over,
a coffee table and love seat to land on.

We watched the winter sunlight break golden on the frozen pond,
wind rushing past numbed ears, pealing laughter,
skidding fast across the glossy desolation
of derecho-damaged cornfields, brown broken stalks scraping
our knuckles where we clung to the car hood
pulled behind the four-wheeler.

But maybe I don't believe in growing up,
or I don't want to believe.
What if we found our fortune there,
in that perfect hour? And
maybe we never left.

We've never stopped going down that snowbound hill,
racing on our bellies with a faceful of frost,
carried across the ice faster than the swoop in my stomach
says should be possible.
Make-believe with me, cousins, like we're there already.
Somebody, write that book for me.

Iron Noder 2020, 12/30

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