French Street, 1965

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we played in the creosote creek,
run off from the tie plant miles away
black and sticky
our beagle, Missy, would waller in the dark water
and my Dad said she never had a flea or tick,

the smell stayed on our barefeet
even though Mamma washed us clean.

long summer days deep in the back back
where at the bottom of the hill
a small pool formed.
no frogs or turtles ever populated
that little pond.

hills lush green with oaks, deep lobed
leaves and plenty of poison ivy
to keep us itching through August.

we stole pallets and nails and whatever
scrap we could carry from the builders
down the street,
dragging it all to the vacant lot
behind our yard, where we built palaces
and ships and tree fort perches,
where we could all escape with peanut butter
sandwiches and bottles of coke.

and the big kids all scoffed and laughed
at our efforts
but we knew there was no place
like home