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by Bet Yeldem

I am desperate for playing Star Wars
like in days when I piloted dad’s old Chevy van
from the command wheel
which was my baby brother’s booster seat
speeding to galaxies far, far away.

You be the cowboy and I’ll be the Indian – too politically incorrect?
You be the cop and I’ll be the robber – too morally reprehensible?
Okay, Batman and Robin, then – no, they’re not gay… and so what if they were?
I just want to play.

Give me days when prayers were centered
on my tooth not hurting when it was time for pulling,
or when the only violent outbursts of protest
were in response to accusations of Santa being a myth.

Give me days when holidays were marked by the types of candy most readily available.
Jelly Bean Easters. Divinity Christmases. Chocolate truffle Valentine Days.
Halloweens filled with the beauty of Pixie Stick bliss.

Is this Peter Pan syndrome? My midlife crisis come early?
Or the plain truth that we’re not allowed to admit and entertain because
it’s just not appropriate behavior for masquerading adults.

In an instant, when I saw him,
Z, three years old,
sprawled across the couch like a drunken ninja,
sucking down pure granulated refined dyed sugar,
blue #4 staining the corner of his mouth,
head thrown back in absolute pleasure,
throat choking on heaven,
I knew
that sooner or later, we all become anxious
for who we once were.
We rationalize that we wouldn’t change a thing, but
we still wonder who
we might have been if we could do it all over.
And if we could, we’d only wonder still
because no version of ourselves would ever satisfy.
It’s all a lie.
We don’t want to be a better grown up, deep down.
We just want to play.

We want to go back, before work, before chores, before school,
before anyone had any expectation of us
other than making mispronounced sentences,
sleeping through the night without wetting the bed,
and not biting the hell out of someone over a toy.
Some people of “mature ages” still have trouble with that last part, but they’re the kids to avoid.
I just want to play.

I want to play with the kids who believe that they can fly,
with or without wings, and who feel their conviction so strongly
that they have you running after
NeverLand. So, we’ll clap our hands
because we believe in fairies as much as in our own breath
on winter days puffing smoky rings
after racing down the snow covered driveway on pizza pans
used as makeshift sleds.
We’ll stand up on top of the fire pit as our stage
cover our faces in clown paint
become air guitar masters and stomp and yell
seeing if we can channel KISS for the fifth time this week
without even a clue what a single lyric is.
We’ll get all our friends
and our favorite Marvel comics and make superhero capes
from great grandmother’s hand-made quilts.

We’ll food fight in the kitchen like there’s no one starving in the world.
We’ll run through the woods blazing trails with machetes, unafraid
of injury or boogey men or ever being lost.
We’ll jump head first into muddy water
from alligator infested river banks all in the name of fun.
We’ll be hobbits and elves
saving the world from ultimate evil,
carrying grandpa’s wedding ring in our pocket like it’s nothing
more than pop tab from a can of Coke.
We’ll take our whipping when we’re caught in mischief, never
learning the lesson they intend to teach,
justifying that the pain was always worth what was
the greatest adventure of life… every time.
We’ll ride our bikes with no hands,
our skateboards with no helmets.
We’ll race to the tops of trees, double daring each other
further out on flimsy limbs
for that flip flop feeling in the pit of our stomachs
that makes us squeal with anticipation and fear, adrenaline and power and delight.

Splash with intention into rain puddles with Sunday clothes and new shoes.
Stare into the sun because they told us not to.
Bring home every stray puppy and pretend they’re gremlins hiding under beds
that we can love over from the dark side to the light.
They’ll be Yoda and Chewbacca when we’re desperate for Star Wars again.
Tag. Your it. I get to call home base.
Hide and Seek. No peeking.
Marco Polo – I’ve always been a fish out of water, you know.
Come play with me.
Climb up the stairway railing like it’s the Empire State Building.
I’ll be King Kong and you be Godzilla
and we’ll tear the house down
until mom comes home.
You know the words…
Ready, set…


Posted on 04/16/2008
Copyright © 2024 Bet Yeldem

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