Monday, January 1, 2007

Crossing Over

As my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged, strange animals, statues, and gold—everywhere the glint of gold. It was all I could do to get out the words, “Yes, wonderful things.”

--Howard Carter, on discovering King Tut’s tomb

The preschool door opened, and I could not stop looking.

Everywhere, wonderful things…

cardboard blocks colored like bricks,

wagons, balls, wooden stove and sink,

everything bright, everything just my size.

Then Miss Porter bent to talk to me.

Her hair slid forward over her shoulders,

shining like a river of pennies.

I couldn’t talk. My throat was swollen with wonder.

But Miss Porter’s green eyes smiled.

She led me to the toy kitchen, and put a doll in my arms.

My baby had a brown face, and brown yarn hair

that stuck straight out like the rays of the sun.

Mommy stooped to kiss me, but kissed only my hair.

I had already turned away.

I had to feed my radiant brown sun baby.

I held the bottle to her pouting plastic mouth,

and Mommy was gone. The floor lurched briefly then,

as I launched into my preschool life.

It would be a new world, but I was not afraid,

provisioned as I was with stackable rubber sandwiches,

plastic apples and bananas, dress-up hats,

a cot and a blanky, everything I would need,

everything I could imagine needing.

Cheryl Gatling

published in Atlanta Review

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