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I am the quiet girl who sits hidden among classmates
doodling and daydreaming
my thoughts whirling like thistledown caught high
in the morning breeze.
Remembering the way the summer sun felt on my skin
when it streamed through the tinted window,
the fields passing in a blur,
and the sparkling arrows of water and rainbow
loosed by long lines of sprinklers,
the motion of the car lulling me
into a not-quite stupor.
Remembering the light that evening, how it was so soft
and the whole world seemed green
except for the looming red cliffs.
Remembering the scraggly highway sunflowers
and wide, wild expanse of sky that for me spelled freedom.
Remembering the ginger blossoms and hibiscus,
the beach covered with shells upon shells upon shells
white, orange, yellow, brown, pink, and red
and the ocean, bright azure and peridot,
the stifling heat and humidity that
only added to the experience.
Remembering the eerie jade glow of the Spanish moss
and the otter I once saw slip into the lake
and the long, sunlit grasses
blowing in the breeze.
Remembering the farmland protected by cliffs of trees
and the walls of fireflies that dominated the night
and even outshone the stars,
and the blinding smiles and warm hugs
from the family I hadn’t seen for far too long
and the laughs that echoed from the kitchen and dining room –
the center of that world.
Remembering the tangled hedges of sweet peas
that grew along the river, my river
where I’ve played with cousins and alone
and the misty, mossy, fern-shrouded redwood forests,
the trees like giants stretching to touch the sky.
Remembering the waterfalls, like diamond sheets,
and the poppy cities
endless acres of glowing red and pink and orange,
and the purple hills of the lavender farms.
Remembering the rambling, tree-covered campus,
especially the library,
protecting the wisdom of the ages within its silent depths;
the people, Ducks and hippies alike, always smiling.
Remembering the aspen grove where I sat with
my cousin, my sister, my best friend
our heads bent together, whispering, giggling,
the leaves murmuring a lullaby.
Remembering my other ocean
not cobalt and emerald, but iron and steel
not blazing with heat and humidity, but misty and frigid
not encrusted with shells, but with water-worn pebbles,
beach glass, and bleached driftwood skeletons,
smooth under my fingertips.
Not the same, but just as beautiful.
All the places to love
all the places I love.
Remembering a time when I was happy.
I am not a leader, nor am I a follower,
I am a wanderer.
I am not a schoolgirl,
but a gypsy traveler,
The others, they have no idea
what memories this quiet girl