Mark O’Hara – Woods

Mark O’Hara


Happiness materializes in a tire swing
dangling from a walnut tree
whose top branches are the tallest
point in the county.  I see it often
on memory’s silver screen, the creek
and ravine where we jerry-rigged
our lines from snags and pulled out
carp as long as our calves.  My first
sledding down the cleared slope
near our subdivision, I stuffed my jacket
with pine cones and leaves from buttonwoods
and beeches, I wanted to take it
all home, even a snowball. All shade
in summer.  Scooting down the slope
to avoid the big cabbages whose hearts
left you stinking, we stumbled
upon a car, a Simca.  No animals
inside.  We stripped the gears, gunned
the motors in our throats.  One season
sunlight stabbed metal and we spotted
the high slide that had disappeared
from the town playground.  Sand
and hanks of carpet made us fly
down its steel.

Now age headlocks my parents.  Age
has made my children move away
and taught me the older face
of innocence is not wisdom
but ardor, every action filled
with deliberate relish, a rock
gripped in the fist because
every pocket is full.

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