Childhood: Learning The Game

Photo from colodio’s photostream via Flickr

Sitting circle,

waiting for his hand

to duck-duck-goose-me

knowing that he might

but there are

soooo many heads between us

soooo many heads to tap

soooo many heads to

tap lightly with fingertips

and he rounds the circle

DUCK                        DUCK

and he rounds the circle

DUCK                        DUCK

and I see rainbows in his hair

and water in his eyes

flexing my calves

with anticipation


ready to jump


ready to jump


read to jump

because his palm is on my hair

warm and lingering

l     i     n     g      e       r       i            n          g

and it is almost off

and I am almost disappointed


all elbows and knees, i stumble to start

but he is sure-footed and fast

our friends are a noisy blur, shouting

RUN                        RUN

and I want to run

my arms are open

like my smile

like my eyes are open

so I see when he looks back

slightly slowing, waiting

wanting me to catch him

wanting me

to catch him

and i want to keep panting

want to keep panting

want to

ruffle his sweet soft feathers.

What are your earliest memories of young love?

56 responses to “Childhood: Learning The Game

  1. And also a poet. Is there no end to your fabulousness? I guess it doesn’t just stop with your hair. 🙂

    The day my new puppy got lost in a farmer’s field and returned three hours later to me crying in the pumpkin patch where he liked my face dry of tears is my first memory of true love and devotion.

    Excuse me…I need a tissue.


  2. Great capture of a moment, Renee! I really like this. And I love the title’s dual meaning.


  3. Great writing! I gave my very first crush a giant Hershey Kiss for Christmas in 3rd grade. He wasn’t into me, but he was still really nice about it and shared the chocolate.


  4. Your poems give me chills! I loved this one.


  5. Yesterday we were playing Batman. He was Batman and chose me as Batgirl. Today I’m wearing my brand new maxi-dress and making a dandelion necklace that I think I might put in my hair instead. I feel all grown up, like the ladies with the flowing hair on tv, only Mrs. Gallagher won’t let me run barefoot on the playground.

    He’s running toward me with a caterpillar. I try to run but it’s not as easy in a maxi-dress. He catches up, slips the caterpillar down the back, and smushes.

    Our relationship has changed forever. I cannot love a boy who would snuff the life out of a future butterfly and ruin a beautiful maxi-dress. He cannot understand what happened to Batgirl.


    • Oh. Why do I feel I have read this before? Or maybe written this before. Your little response is more beautiful than my original piece. Oh, Hippie. You really are a piece of work. Always. Stunning.

      I love that girl in the sundress. And the real Batman wouldn’t squish a future butterfly? Would he? 😦


  6. Renee, this poem is awesome! Consider me snapping my fingers.

    Earliest memories of love? Sitting on an abandoned old railroad bridge, swinging my legs, staring at the river below and the reflection of the city lights on the water. Occasionally a duck quacks in the background or ruffles his feather in the water, and the smell of my then boyfriend’s soap as he puts his arm around me.


    • Hi Jess. I LOVE your memory. I also love the weird little triggers that are so vivid with first love. Or just first romance. My first REAL love is all about the color apricot — but this was my introduction to the concept of boys.

      I needed to chase them and catch them. And they kind of wanted me to. 😉


  7. So cute! This would make a great children’s book!


  8. In kindergarten, I had a crush on Brad Walsh (a name I remember after almost 40 years). Brad’s best friend was Grant Landy (another name to notforget) and the day Grant split his forehead open on the playground and had to go home early, I cried and cried.

    Not because Grant was hurt. But because Brad was sad that his friend was hurt.

    Early negotiations of empathy and concern and GIRLDRAMA on behalf of someone else.



    • I love that you remember your Brad Walsh. Admit it, you’ve Googled him. You have, right?

      I loved Jeff Friedman. He sometimes reads this blog. If you are reading today Jeffy-Poo. It was you. But you were more interested in rocks and football. Also you said I had hairy legs. *sticks out tongue*

      It’s nice that we have remained friends after all these years.


  9. Oh, this is perfect. Even the bolding and spacing of words is poetic.

    My Kindergarten boyfriend walked me to my bus every day. And chased another boy down and pushed him when he made fun of me. True love.


  10. This was so much fun to read! I agree with “Meet the Buttrams”, the bolding, the spacing–all fabulous!

    Hmmm, earliest memory of love? I’m not sure I can go back that far? I, do however, remember the first time I felt “those butterflies” in my stomach over a boy. I was in elementary school, somewhere around the 3rd grade. His name was John. He was kind to me. He saw me. I knew he did. He always looked me in the eyes when we spoke. Three years later, he gave me my first kiss. On the cheek. Behind home plate. It was a very good day for the young girl I once was. And a fun memory for young girl that still lives inside me.


  11. Awwwwwww… sweet.

    I hope your computer issues are all better? Please? Full recovery?


    • No recovery. This was locked and loaded before the great meltdown of 2012. I don’t even have a computer. I’m on my phone. I can’t imagine writing for a while. Need to go shopping.

      But I’m glad you liked my memory.

      Now that you know how miserable I am, how about you share a first memory of love. Could be for a pet or that first kid you held hands with. You know the one. 😉


  12. Love the poem, Renee. 🙂

    I can’t remember a ‘first love’ from that early, not at school anyway. But I do recall that in hospital (where I spent quite a lot of my early years, on and off) I kept falling in love with student nurses!


  13. I remember “accidentally” kissing a girl on the playground, and her accusing me of being “gay” because of it. My heartbreak was over-ridden by the need to explain the inherent fallacy in her name-calling.


  14. Oh man. JOHN FRANK. First grade. I don’t think Duck, Duck, Goose was invented yet, so we were doing some functional equivalent, and I’m not sure, but I think he KISSED me. Just about died. Of course, in second grade he forsook me for Kathy with a cool lunch pail and thick blonde hair, but in the end stopped growing 6 inches shorter than me so there. Wonderful poem. Thanks.


  15. I remember being all elbows and knees playing duck duck goose. I remember it too well. As for earliest memory of young love… I was so darn serious as a kid, I had a very very long term crush on the boy next door. He was older and therefore wiser. No one else measured up. I think I told him about it when I was 20? Which was probably a good thing, because I really needed to move on 😉


    • I kind of love that you crushed on the boy next door. Even if he was too old.

      I was in the reading group THE DOG NEXT DOOR in 3rd grade. It was for the less able readers. I faked it so I could sit next to my crush. The teacher caught on and moved me up. What a bitch. 😉


  16. Ruffle his sweet soft feathers.
    This poem a delight to read. =)


  17. Sweet, lovely and innocent. I love it. Well done.

    My first experience was with a boy who liked me and my friend. He decided we would both be his girlfriends and we would have a race to decide who was going to be the “first” girlfriend. Literally a race, like running. Yeah, I was out. But he was adorable and his name was Ricky and he was the first that made my heart skip that extra beat. I was 9.


    • I love that you had to race for him. That’s hilarious. But I also respect him for picking the fastest girl. You know, he went for someone who challenged him. At least physically.

      I’ll bet wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, eh? clearly, you would have dwarfed him intellectually. 😉


  18. I like the ending and your use of form to help convey meaning.


  19. Pingback: Tall Tale Tuesday: Kick the Can « Ellie Ann

  20. I LOVE the way you made this poem ‘visual’ – honestly, your poems are COOL enough that they make me want to start writing poetry again.

    I had a new crush every year, starting when I was 5. The first was Michael, and he had wavy brown hair and long eyelashes, and he was really nice. I’ve always liked The Nice Guy. But I think we all know it took another 16 years before anyone liked me back, hence the aforementioned poetry. 😉


  21. Beautiful poem, RAS-J! Technically, my first love was a handful of earthworms in each pocket of the cowgirl outfit (fortunately –and loudly– Mom checked them before throwing the outfit into the wringer washer…). After that (and skipping the two days long 6 yr old me and 10 yr old him thing), blond-haired brown-eyed earflap-hatted smiler Ricky was my first shall-die-if-he-drops-me. As an older woman of 12 to his embarrassing 11.75, I wasn’t sure his half-summer away at a far grandmother’s would return to me my revered skateboarding cemetery-exploring buddy, protector, and sharer of every dime and popsicle. Heard a whistle outside my bedroom window one Saturday morn –same whistle he’d taught me — *gasp!!


    • Omigosh! That is the most romantic thing ever.

      Not the worms, Ricky.

      I love how he came a-whistling. Did you marry him? Or did the age difference come between you? 😉


      • It’s the very stuff of romance movies, isn’t it? I dunno.. maybe it was indeed the age thing –he screamed like a girl in the graveyard, once, when Chiefie popped up behind a headstone at dusk –a very short, old, delayed fellow who guarded the antique fire engine in the barn next to the plots. The scream became an insurmountable barrier because of its two-edged disappointment: It was the very way I had practiced over and over to scream– but never once achieved! I always sounded likes brakes being run over. I’m sure Ricky’s voice has changed by now, but that is little comfort to me.


  22. I am not a poetry lover – but this I LOVED.
    Fabulous, touching, funny, sweet, innocent (and not!). Awesome.


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