what I remember about you.
Calloused toes perched on the edge of a rough wooden plank,
goggles pulled tight against SPF-oiled skin.
Untamable golden-brown curls
submerged in Ozark waters.
Lakes nestled in the valleys of those forested hills,
the reek of gutted fish and fry oil
mixed with hush puppies and onion rings,
a proper Missourian feast.
Worms squirmed in my chubby hands as I learned to puncture their slimy bodies
with a sharp metal hook.
Rod wrenched from my inexperienced fingers
with one lurch of a scaly and muscular tail.
Fat worm, swallowed whole.
Sharp crack of plastic, bending beyond its limits,
an arc slicing through the sweltering air,
curving down towards the rippling water.
Plummeting down, down, down.
Oh, it was a glorious childhood.
Weekly baths in the lake,
suds and shampoo mixing with algae and fish pee
lightening bugs trapped in mason jars
geese chased with BB guns
last bitter shriveled blackberries
a gangly, blonde-haired boy’s kiss
sipping a bowl of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup
raindrops, a million ripples on the lake’s surface
flying ten feet in the air,
floating on my back in the choppy water
my stinging eyes squinting up at the sun.