Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sleepover Camp, circa 1957

Sleepover camp when you are six
Comes along like a Christmas bicycle
Suddenly there meant to be a total surprise

Maybe you never even heard of a sleeping bag
This idea is so new and
No one had talked about it

It is almost said in a foreign language
And you have images of tall trees and pine needles
lying all over the ground in soft humps

Imagine lying down under a blanket of starshine
Zipped in like a sofa pillow
And then it turns out there is a big indoor room

Where all the girls sleep with
one big bathroom and stalls with no doors
you will adjust because it is so special

There are glass lights with fire wicks
they call them hurricane lamps and you shiver because
maybe they are expecting a great storm

you wonder if your parents knew the whole story when
they sent you along in Mrs Drake’s station wagon
to have hot dogs with mustard for dinner and no vegetables

then night is fully there the fire lights are out
a girl you never met before is sobbing across there somewhere
you find the grownup girl sleeping by the door

and ask her what is the matter she says the other girl is
homesick and you wonder what is that? you ask
and shiver again because what if it is like polio?

and you are sure there is no iron lung
anywhere close in case that sickness should get worse
don’t worry it is not catching so you remember

what your dog would do pulling your zipup bag
across the room you lie against the girl you do not know
you imagine fields of buttercups and her daddy

holding the flower beneath her chin just to see
if she likes butter just at that moment she sighs
no more sobbing that is your first night at sleepover camp

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