Sophomore year in high school she took off

with a biker in a hippie caravan headed

for California and came back in her late twenties

to care for her grandma at the family farm


On afternoons later in life, a recluse

rocking in the shade of flourishing trees

at the same house in southern Missouri,

she nodded often, smiled some, said little


I knew her best at eleven, a gangly monkey

with tiny sculptured breasts poking

from under a boy’s white t-shirt

never saying no to nothing or nobody


We met in the windbreaks near the fairgrounds

when our folks were in town shopping,

happy to be free of their craziness

and the humdrum of their gray lives


Her mouth forever flower tasting,

she kissed me often, pinched a lot,

raced me barefoot downhill,

fire-faced, hair a raging blond storm


I chased her, lost her,

one morning, one summer,

a wood nymph dashing far ahead

through the whirling day