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Once Upon a Baby Time

(for all the displaced children
who came to America)

I pretend I am a baby
walk on all fours, see things
I don't understand, a couch,
a lamp, a new refrigerator.

Later, my hassock seat
is a blue boat in a white ocean
the waves higher than
the trees in the front yard

and I think about the lost girl
in the story my father told me:
why was she in the wrong forest,
was the girl dark like the children
who live next door in the red house,
why did the witch spin in her rags,
dance a polka and then fall down?

Later, I look out the window
and see a penny in the grass.
When I go outside to get the penny
it is not there, but when I stand
again at the window, there it is.

I wonder who I will be
in the story my father will tell
when he comes home from the factory
where he makes white string
like the string in my shirt.

Will I be the sister
who runs away, or King Sobieski
riding a blind horse
searching for her
in the yellow mountains?

Later, I bake bread in the TV set
and kiss everything in the house,
the dirt in the flower pot
tastes like chocolate,
the carpet hurts my lips.

Later, I am a rabbit
and a father afraid of stealers
and I grow wings and fly
to the ceiling above my head.

 

©1999 John Guzlowski

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