As a kid I learned how to steal candy without anyone seeing, and, on more honest days,
how to buy the most candy with the least amount of loose change. I learned how to build a fire, how to walk the railroad tracks, how to knock off a list of Saturday chores in record time.
I knew when there were maggots in something by the smell. I knew life was good when the corn was high. I could tell by the mood of the grownups.
My hand still remembers writing its first love letter in awkward sprawling cursive,
and my legs remember riding my bike six miles over flat prairie roads to slip it into your mailbox, put the flag up, and streak away like a scared bunny, pedaling madly,
heart banging, summer skin dripping, so naively unprepared for the rush.
Your totally straight parents must have hated that: the only hippie kid from the tiny local schoolhouse (complete with rainbow suspenders and a bowl haircut) professing his newly-discovered timeless love for their daughter, via annoyingly-poetic bad penmanship. It was an unpleasant little trick for them, I’m sure, like eating peeled grapes while blindfolded, and being told they’re eyeballs.