Candlewood, my childhood,
floating and first loves and swim team ribbons,
and the stone wall retainer, and that stairway down to the soft sand,
and Sunnies nipping my toes, and splashing, and shrieking,
and underwater handstands,
and backward somersaults,
and uncles throwing children high into the air,
coming to surface with our long “seaweed” hair,
that back and forth hike,
“we’ll be down at the beach”
mothers lugging provisions for all,
a bouncy diving board,
that knocked a few teeth out, I recall,
and a big tipsy, curve-around slide,
our rowdy cannonballs, and elegant swan dives,
and wood duck partners paddling right up,
feeding them bits of bread and corn from a cup,
our wet sand meatballs drying in the sun,
the minnows we tried to catch, in our blanket towel traps, for fun.
Later, some make-out sessions and little sips of Buttershots,
and taking hits, and prom pics,
those steamy windows of cars parked in the lot,
and then, always, my daddy in winter,
alone in a hooded snowsuit, out on the ice,
waiting for tip-up flags, with a Budweiser,
his frozen, glittering paradise,
feeling it, just feeling alright.
Oh, but come summer again, and night cat fishing,
those big suckers with whiskers, all of us wishing,
dropping down that line,
under stars, a lake lit with clear moon shine,
and swimming, always swimming,
all the way across, and back of course,
back to the shore, once more,
to childhood, again.
Jumping in, a skinny-dip, holding hands, laughing,
with Farrah Fawcett hair, and cigarettes,
slathered in baby oil, our young skin glistening,
in our black sunglasses, closed-eye listening,
to the “Top 100 songs of the decade,” those I-95 count downs,
on boomboxes, radio’s, just flipping around,
waiting for boat rides, with tan, teenage boys, and oh those muscles,
there appeared Lance, and Candy, and Krista, and Paul,
in wet towels, with coolers, departed come fall.
And kayaking, camping, canoeing,
and rowing across, always across,
under open, blue sky, and hiding
bobbing precariously underneath the dock,
and drip castles, and fire pits, and climbing the “big rock”
and water snakes, and all that lake clogging my ears,
49 summers, still counting the years,
watching that small plane landing on the water so smooth,
and the pontoon parties,
and our drunken family reunions,
rolling those fat, black tire tubes,
straight down the hill,
I remember all of it, all of it still,
sitting, dreaming, in the Adirondack chairs,
that time I lost my ring,
how I dreaded Chicken Rock, and that iffy rope swing.
Always baiting hooks, so many hooks!
With the night crawlers we collected from under the leaves,
by the dozens,
with cousins, of course cousins –
decades of cousins!
And “breaking in” to the clubhouse,
for ping-pong marathons,
and gardens, glorious “embankments” lining the street,
orange Lily’s and yellow Susan’s, and pink Rose’s sweet,
free-range roaming through The Trails, no shoes on our feet,
and Kool-Aid, and sprinklers, and a chocolate ice cream treat.
Oh, and Grandma.
in white poly shorts, paper hands on her hips,
with a smile, and a long, brown More hanging from her lips,
calling us home, to be counted, to rest.
Candlewood, forever, is my summer, my family,
and Betty the Best.