When I was a kid,
I enjoyed being outside in the rain.
Not directly, of course,
But, huddled in a doorway, or a shed.
Listening to the regal pitter-pat of raindrops drumming on corrugated roofs, or the splintered plywood of makeshift forts.
Raw earth and drinking greenery would tickle my nostrils,
And car contrails of mist would space the distance according to the traffic tempo.
If you listened carefully, you would hear man-sized Tonka Trucks, pile-drivers, and the whistling sound of landing planes on final approach.
The safety of a semi-dry place during all of this,
Made me feel the good alone.
Defying nature, until it was time to return home.
When I peeled off my soiled Chuck Taylors from puddle stomping missteps.
My white socks would be ink black.
We lived on the second floor growing up.
The sounds of neighborhood proximity danced through the screens and curtain sheers on sunny shadowed mornings.
The aliveness of the day pulled us out of our sweaty summer beds, and coaxed us out, out.
At times, our apartment felt like the sun, and we would need to escape outside to a Bunker Hill breeze.
There was one box fan for the whole apartment.
It toiled, satisfactory, but disappointing.
A dip in the Clougherty Pool, could take the sting off.
Then we’d play endless evening rituals, while our mothers squatted on park benches and smoked butts.
The Slush Guy would come ringing his bell.
Small 50¢, medium 75¢, large $1.00.
Lemon, Watermelon, Banana, or a Rainbow.
We’d haunt our mothers until they fidged quarters and moist dollar bills that smelled of tobacco from their change purses and cigarette cases.
My mother always kept her potential cigarettes in the refrigerator. She’d say, “it keeps them freshah.”
Summer nights lasted through orange-blue skies, that got further into shadow, just as the games of hide and seek would start to get good.
Then we’d hear the call.
Time to go back to the heat rising second floor walk-up.
Sweat the night, and be up all the earlier the next day, to get out into life.
A very special thank you, to the neighborhood of North Mead St. a great place to grow up, and share with so many great people. I truly miss them all, and dance with their ghosts as they wind their way through my head.
40/40: Summer Poem Slam-a-bam is a project in which people have joined me for 40 days and 40 nights of on-demand poetry. They have submitted the concepts, ideas, and subjects; I’ve done the rest.