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Neverland

Let’s pretend, she said to her friend
running down the hill in the opposite direction.
Let’s pretend, she said to the sky, to the air,
to the field around her.

Arms held high, as if performing for God,
she danced in a white long-sleeved blouse
and a plaid skirt over black knee-highs.

Blond hair blowing in fall breezes,
her hips gyrated to the beat in her head,
like Tinker Bell savoring Never-Never-Land.

Waving like one of those lilies of the field
that lives carefree under divine protection,
she touched tall grasses,
holding deep conversations with them.

Watched from a distance,
she did not hide in embarrassment––rather,
she heightened the pitch of her twirling
with the air of a princess pleasing her subjects.

How long would it take for her to lose
that spark of self-absorption,
that feeling that she was enough?

Perhaps some teacher would criticize
her crayoned elephant,
a parent would tell her kissing donkeys
wasn’t proper or friends wouldn’t choose her
for their softball team?

When would she become self-conscious
or ashamed, pulling in like a threatened turtle?
How old a woman would she have to be
to start talking to grasses again?

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