• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 09


I vaguely recollect
Those halcyon summer days
When the family
Was still together under one roof
And sober and healthy,
If separated by work
In the factories and fields,
When we lived in the country,
With both a front- and a backyard
For carefree childhood romps
And adventures of the imagination,
Bracketed by trees,
Tall, strong, and protective,
Mama's lasagna
Occasionally wafting
Through the tiny kitchen window,
A rare delicacy and treat,
Piles of family photo albums
Gathering dust on the shelves
In the living room.

Back then I used to go barefoot,
Revelling in the fine feel
Of fescue between my toes,
Splashing in giant puddles
In the pothole strewn gravel driveway
After the summer thunderstorms came,
Leaving the air smelling and tasting
Crisp, clean, and cool.



It was a time
When the soles of my feet were tough,
When I was tough,
And I could entertain myself for hours on end
With nary a soul
Or a gadget in sight,
A time when time itself
Was not a concept with which I grappled
And fought losing battles.

Instead, I chased fireflies
Around the picnic table
And trees at night,
Catching, but never keeping,
The shining beacons of joy,
Basking in the wonderous moonlight,
And marvelling at all the stars
I could not count.

Country music was constantly on the radio –
REAL country music,
Not the bad pop
That passes for it today,
The kind that only plays on Retro Sundays
Or special stations nowadays –
And I would dance
In the dampened, post-rain grass,
Catching and releasing fireflies,
Serenading cattle



In the pasture by the house,
Off-key, out of tune, and joyous,
Once in a while revisiting
The shrinking puddles
Until finally,
My mother would call me in,
Bribing me with a book to read,
And put me to bed,
Where I would read myself to sleep,
Lost in magical stories.

Those memories are fading now,
Like the photos in the old albums
That I inherited,
And although I live alone
In the city,
Where you cannot see the moon and stars,
I still sometimes
Tune into a distant radio station
Dedicated to old country music –
To the good stuff –
And I can still taste and smell
Mama’s special lasagna
And a thunderstorm on the air
And feel puddles on my ankles,
Green grass beneath my feet,
Fireflies flickering in hand,
The security of trees watching over
My endless escapades,
And the freedom that comes only from
Childhood summer days.