The Peter Pan Prize
Visiting My Cousin in Richmond
I remember the strangeness of the house, every bedroom
upstairs looking out at bedrooms across the street,
the hooked rug where I slipped one day, cubes
of ice wrapped in a towel cold knobs against my knobby ankle.
At the public pool, I thought I was going to drown
and held up my finger once, twice, three times
before the pool’s cement floor rose
to meet my feet.
Visiting people my aunt knew,
we perched on the edge of a Duncan Phyfe sofa
that looked like it belonged in a country club
where we would never be members. The shadowed depth
of woods that offered grapevines we grabbed to swing out
over the deep, ravishingly green ravine yodeling like Tarzan.
And, though the visits seem strange with so many new things
the one constant: Twyla and her little sister Rynn, Rynn’s Joan of Arc
haircut formed from a bowl, Twyla’s long blonde
wound around athletic socks, when dry the strands falling
past her shoulders in gleaming spirals. And always, always
Twyla the leader and Rynn the follower—
I think that stay in Richmond was the last time
I spent a week with them before we all grew up.
Now I’ve been married over forty years.
Where did they go, Nancy Drew
and her pals with the world
laid out before them—I think
we must have left them in the forest, sunlight
printing their faces with leopard spots
as they hurtled through the summer air, the air that passed
right through them.