Bridget Gage-Dixon

Nature Boy

Gloria had crimson hair
that fell in waves
around her shoulders
as we sat atop the dirt hill
making mudpies.
She poured water from
a sand bucket
while I kneaded oozing mud
between my fingers
felt it creeping down my arms
dripping off onto the Sunday dress
I'd snuck away still wearing.
Thin fingers pulling through the dirt
she carefully constructed the moat
while I slapped handfuls of mud
atop each other,
carelessly creating my castle.
Until from the thicket
we heard his labored breathing
raised our eyes in his direction
to find him standing naked
watching us,
this man who existed to us only
in the whispers of neighborhood mothers
huddled beneath street lights.
This man they threw their shoes at,
whose presence always brought police
to sweep through
underbrush with nightsticks
as angry mothers
with small arms wrapped
around their legs
peered on.
He stood before us,
as if legend,
until Gloria's laughter broke his spell
and she grabbed me by the hem
of my soiled Sunday dress
dragging me across the dirt
toward home.


The 2River View, 4.2 (Winter 2000)