At the top of the slide I lower
myself head-first, on my back,
give a little push.
The whole sky overhead, it is like flying,
landing gear up. These summers I escape
the tethering sorrow of home
by going airborne – red
up and down hills, arms out,
belly loud with engine noise.
In a few years I will plan to run away,
camp in the woods near school, finish
my elementary education while living
off the land of a few suburban backyards.
I’ll gather gear: Girl Scout mess kit,
poncho, tea bags, library books
about wilderness survival.
I’ll set a date to go.
But my friend will tell her mother,
I will give back the tea bags,
cry as I watch Heidi in her t.v. movie
run through Swiss mountains
to her grandfather.
On the slide I pitch down the hot metal runway,
my friends wait below to stop me.
When I reach them, they jump back –
I am launched past them and land
spine down, windless, unable to stand.
Summoned adults minister
to me until I am erected,
ready to walk back to my unchanged
history. I ask my friends,
Why didn’t you catch me?
They say, You were coming too fast.
- by Karen Schubert