Pat, one of my cabin mates, thought she was a horse.
Every morning she got, whinnying and galloped out
onto the hillside. Through the screen door, I studied her
eating oats. Jane slept in the bunk next to mine,
her sour breath drifted over me. Crying softly
in the dark, she whispered, headaches hurt.
On Sunday evening we gathered around the campfire
with our camp director, “Cha-woo”, who,
dressed in emblem-decorated deerskin, lit
three candles for work, health and love as we sang,
We come, we come to our council fire with measured tread
and slow to light the fire of our desire, to light the fire
of wo-he-lo, wo-he-lo, wo-he-lo.
The following night in bungalow number eight,
Susan began to read aloud about a very young, Latin American girl,
the youngest girl ever to give birth, or so Time Magazine said.
I was even more surprised by this than the reporter.
How can she have a baby when she isn’t even married?
I asked. Laughter. A messenger of God disguised
as Susan’s cabin mate spoke. Silly, don’t you know
the facts of life? She outlined them. It was evening.
My face was as hot as last night’s campfire,
my heart galloping like Pat’s legs in the morning, my breathing,
as labored as Jane’s with her migraines. I walked out into the field alone, toward the lake. The setting sun was like a sheepherder collecting colors off
all the trees, the rocks, the grass, the barn walls
until I too was as black as sheep, huddled against
the oncoming avalanche of a rushing moon.
Published, Whistling Girls and Cackling Hens, Sandra Larson, Pudding House Chapbook Series, 2003