Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Poem a Day 30: I Dare You . . .

When I was nine years old,
or maybe ten,
my mom, my sister, and me
went to live with my aunt.
Everything seemed crazy.
We didn't know, my sister and me,
why we were there, on this small island,
just outside Seattle, living in this
tiny house with a crooked fireplace
and a winding path down to the beach.

My two cousins greeted us with straight faces.
Jimmy, the oldest at 12, walked us
over to a group of nettles rising up out of the earth.
"How do I know you will be brave?"
He glared at me. "Pick one of these nettles
and strip the leaves off. I dare you."

Did you ever wonder what you would do if
someone dared you to do something,
and you knew, deep in your heart that this
was stupid? And you did it? 
Because you wanted more than anything
to belong, to be accepted, to be loved?
Blisters blasted up both hands as I twisted
that nettle and pulled it straight.

The rest of that summer, the island was ours.
We ran wild along the beaches,
climbed logs, built sand castles,
left secret messages in that stone fireplace.
For those few months, I was just a kid.

Bainbridge Island, about 1953.

Today's the very last day of the national challenge to write a poem every day for the month of April. I'm not quite sure this is a poem. I did want to write something beautiful, something about nature, maybe hope in these tumultuous times. But instead, this memory came of a time long ago, when I was just a kid. All I can tell you is that I'm still stubborn -- and, it's time to get back to writing! 

Has anyone ever dared you to do something? What did YOU do?

I am hoping that May will be a better month for us all.

1 comment:

  1. Oh your poem, and it IS a poem, says so much, and what it doesn't say speaks volumes. Shame on your cousin! I hope he was impressed by your bravery, and it WAS bravery! Your last line is powerful: "for those few months I was just a kid." BEAUTIFUL! I sense you learned years ago to turn hardship into joy!