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Too Late This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

when I was younger
we would duck through the neighbors' yards
to meet in the woods
and climb trees
you were scared
and I pretended I wasn't
but really I was too
we would have to hop two fences
run under one canoe
scale one garage roof
to get to the grape arbor
and we would climb to the top
the curling vines strong enough to take our weight
we would drink home-made lemonade
and talk of dreams
then we would have mud pie competitions
and build mazes for the mice
we would run outside naked in the winter
and, screaming, jump into the snow
and then back into the scalding hot tub
our toes and cheeks pink
remember when we would build sunflower houses
and I would braid your hair
and we would catch bees in glass jars
carefully,
so the bees didn't get hurt
and we would build tents out of sticks and tarps
and sleep outside
even when it rained
and we would go skinny dipping at night
the slide was always faster without a suit
and we would lay on the roof
and watch for shooting stars
and make up new constellations
and then there were the driftwood fires
huge and blue-green
we would roll over some coals to cook our beans in the old pot
and we would roast brats on sharpened sticks
and then have a true camping meal
in your backyard
and at last
when we went inside
we would whip fresh cream
and eat it with strawberries that I grew
and lick our fingers
and the spoon and bowl
how I wish I were still as free
and small
that I could squeeze into the dryer
with you
and a cat
and chase the chickens into the corner of the field
and burn our names into the wooden swing set with a magnifying glass
but I am too old
and you are too far away
I hope you never grow up
because I know that it is too late for me





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