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What saved me were those years in Alamogordo
when I was nine & ten, unfettered, unsupervised,
so I could build wooden carts, play with bows
& arrows, roam empty lots, half-framed houses
with my buddies Mike & Greg—in the military
boomtown near Holloman where Col. John Stapp,
Fastest Man in the World, hurtled on the rocket
sled 630 miles an hour, then stopped. 46 g’s.
Glad we didn’t stay, returned in ’57 to LA.
Could’ve been one more Alamo teen so bored,
I turned to Jimson weed, eating spiky seed pods
for escape in a blur of delirium & amnesia.
Flat-roofed ranch house. Thin walls, dirt yard,
scorpions, brackish water. Creosote, cottonwoods,
mesquite, saltbush & every kind of cactus.
Blistering July, but night so cool & sky so dark.
Who knew there were so many stars? By fall,
walking a mile to school through dust storms.
My mother put aside her reading to gussy up,
black cocktail dress & heels, to help my dad
entertain ‘the brass.’ Best memory: watching
Mom’s friend Verna gyrate & howl in a plaid
house dress. September 1956, just like Elvis.
Ain’t nothin but a hound dog, cryin all the time.
Back in LA just months, my father’s assigned
to Edwards in the Mojave. This time my mother says:
I didn’t raise my daughters—to be tumbleweeds.
Copyright 2018 Joan E. Bauer.
Previously published in Pretty Owl. Reprinted by permission of the author.