A SUMMER EVENING
I am eight years old and walk from the trolley stop to the amusement park. My aunt and older sister are with me. From two blocks away, odors of cotton candy, hot dogs, fried fish. The wind from the ocean sweeps these odors in and out, along with the noise.
beyond the park lights–the growing darkness
of the sea
The fat lady with her maniacal laugh stands at the entrance to the fun house. Too scared to go in; too scared to wait outside alone.
sneaking a peekin the darkened tunnel–
eyes half shut
Any ride we want, my aunt says. The giant Ferris wheel, caterpillar, bumper cars. Rides my father would not allow.
screams and laughter
on the roller coaster–
which is mine?
I try games of chance and skill. The penny toss, spin the wheel, pop the balloons. Have neither skill nor luck and leave with no prize and a long face. "Cheer up," my aunt says. "Time for one more ride."
The merry-go-round. The best for last. I choose a big black and white horse. An outside horse, one that moves up and down. No stationary animal for me. Gaining speed. The calliope pumping a tune, quick and gay. I reach for the brass ring. Arms way too short. Next year, I think.
head held backwhirling into the wind
a taste of sea salt
Frogpond winte 2006(revised from published version)