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Truth and Lies
by ellen

My big sister tries to pull the bubble-gum from my hair.
It's stuck like Crazy Glue on my braid.
She scissor-snips above and below the wad of pink.
Mommy will never know, she says.
Mom sits me on the edge of the tub to comb my hair.
She unloosens the rubber band at the end of my braid.
A hunk of hair falls to the floor. Mom doesn't notice.
My sister picks it up and throws it out the back door.
Later that day my sister and I go to Round Pond.
We walk the railroad tracks. She balances on the rails.
I walk on the ties. We pass the ring-nosed bull,
pick rhubarb and chew on the strings as if it were gum.
I don't know how to swim. I wade in the shallow water.
The big kids dive off the board. After awhile I shiver
and stand on the edge of the dock. Bobby creeps up
and pushes me into the water. I go under.
I hold my breath and kick as fast as I can.
Then I come up for air and doggie paddle to shore.
We start for home, gather Queen Ann's Lace
that grows wild beside the tracks.
Guess what happened today. I learned to swim.
Bobby pushed me in, and I swam to the beach.
Mommy sniffs her nose and says pointedly,
You are never to swim with Bobby again.
The next time we go swimming, Bobby is there.
I have fun showing off how I can swim.
We walk the tracks back toward home pinching
honeysuckle blossoms and sucking out the nectar.
Hungry, when we reach home, we eat all our supper,
even the lima beans. For dessert there is stewed rhubarb.
Mommy asks if Bobby was at Round Pond.
Simultaneously my sister says, No and I say, Yes.
Our answers float through thick air.
We girls plunge into the deep waters of deceit.


Poet of the month Moon Tide Press


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