If you were light
and could play on a rose,
would you slide,
do you suppose,
down velvet hill,
where shadow splash
marks your soft plop
with grinned panache?
Then would you climb back up,
find that shy frill,
and pirouette there
in lucent trill?
Would you leap tip-to-tip
with weightless toes,
like drunken sprite
in perfumed throes?
each vale and peak,
would you dodge and dive
Would you stop perhaps
to bask in the stillness
of unfurling reverie?
There is mystery here, dear reader. Apparently some call “olly-olly-oxen-free.” I was intrigued to see that some people who were kids in the Chicago area called “oly-oly-ocean-free” because that’s where I was a kid and that was our cry. So, oxen or ocean, nobody knows, though I did like the suggestion that olly/oly came from all-ye as a call at the end of the farm day to put everything, including the oxen, away for the night.
I remember it as inviolable. Once called, nobody could be tagged. Non-negotiable.
Many thanks to Susan Rushton for the beautiful photo!
January 19, 2023 at 4:47 pm
A soft plop, the velvet hill…I think your muse has returned. Wonderful words that tickle the imagination, Maureen.
January 19, 2023 at 7:44 pm
Thank you, Lois. I cannot account for this muse; she is utterly unpredictable.
January 19, 2023 at 4:50 pm
Such a beautiful poem, lovely and playful!
January 19, 2023 at 7:45 pm
January 19, 2023 at 7:20 pm
Yes!!! To all the questions in your poem! Lois is right…your muse has returned and is in fine form. This is fun and whimsical Maureen. Makes me remember all those childhood games we played outside in the boiling sun or freezing cold. Wearing fireflies on our fingers for rings until they flew away. Eaten alive by mosquitoes! But we didn’t have to go in until the street lights went on, so we stayed out and played. I remember these childhood friends from so long ago.
I never understood then what a treat and privilege it was to be able to hoot and holler and laugh out loud with the other kids on my block, having a grand time. We interacted head on instead of shutting ourselves inside and texting like today. That was truly a magical time!
For us it was “oly-oly home free”. 🥴
January 19, 2023 at 7:49 pm
Oly-oly home free! There’s a new one on me, but good to know. I bet it was as strictly enforced as ours was. I too think back to playing outdoors. I was a real klutz, so it’s not as though I was out there engaging in sports, but then most kids didn’t. We just PLAYED. Thanks for remembering the past with me, Ginger!
January 20, 2023 at 11:56 am
There is a group of kids at the end of our street who play outside. When I see them in the road, with a hokey net or a basketball, I stop, turn around and go to the other end of the street. I can’t bring myself to make them move.
January 20, 2023 at 12:10 pm
Good for you Dan. There’s a group of boys on our street who play street hockey, basketball and football year round. I love watching them and hearing them laugh. It’s a bit of a phenomenon these days since so many kids have become hermits with their cellphones keeping them company. They have no idea dea what they’re missing. So sad.
January 20, 2023 at 12:19 pm
I’m pretty sure these kids have been told to “go outside and play!” Much the same way I was, but they always seem to be having fun. I turned around one day as they were starting to move the hokey net, and one of the older boys yelled “Thank you!” I was shocked!
January 20, 2023 at 1:32 pm
“Go outside and play” was a recording in our house along with “Wipe your feet!” and “Close the door!” How wonderful to hear the “Thank you!” from those kids!
January 20, 2023 at 4:35 pm
Sometimes, when I see them playing, I think I stepped into a time warp.
January 20, 2023 at 5:47 pm
January 20, 2023 at 4:36 pm
PS, was “Close the door” followed by “We’re not paying to heat the outside.” ???
January 20, 2023 at 5:49 pm
Sometimes the recording said something about flies and mosquitoes. Could we help it if the door didn’t shut itself?
January 20, 2023 at 12:37 pm
There’s something healthy for us, I think, in watching kids play when we have a chance. It does bring back memories, not to mention how entertaining it can be.
January 20, 2023 at 12:34 pm
January 19, 2023 at 7:49 pm
“Olly-olly oxen free’ up here in the Northeast. 🙂 Love the rose, love the words, love the conversation. Thursday must be your day, Maureen. 🙂
January 19, 2023 at 7:54 pm
Maybe you’re right — maybe Dan’s doors help me find some words on Thursdays! Susan’s rose helped too. This dismal January has not been all that cold, but it sure has been bleak, and this rose really was all the more beautiful for the contrast. So it’s oxen up there. I wonder if kids still use it; they might be too sophisticated these days, but I hope not.
January 19, 2023 at 11:18 pm
I’m not sure whether kids play outside these days. We live close enough to a subdivision, and I use to be able to hear kids talking and laughing outside. Not anymore. I think they’re all inside using their thumbs and controllers.
January 19, 2023 at 11:39 pm
I’m sitting here shaking my head and feeling very old. I’m glad you and Ginger and I can remember the outdoors and playing.
January 20, 2023 at 11:54 am
I wish I could take even a small amount of credit for this, but I think the credit is all yours, Maureen.
January 20, 2023 at 12:33 pm
Well, you never know. Writers do get inspired by other writers. Doors and porches do have certain powers.
January 20, 2023 at 4:28 pm
That’s true. I and others were imagining sitting on those porches on a cool evening. Not forgetting the peach cobbler, of course.
January 20, 2023 at 11:53 am
I love your description of the sun on the rose. You captured the exact movement I would expect to see. As for ocean/oxen, I recall ‘oxen’ but ‘ocean’ works just as well.
January 20, 2023 at 12:30 pm
Thanks, Dan! The whole thing about that kids’ chant is interesting, and I bet it was to be taken seriously no matter what words were used.
January 20, 2023 at 4:40 pm
If the light is playing tag, the rose seems happy to be caught. Perhaps the rose version is to call out oly-oly-fall-on-me – that would work for bees and butterflies too.
January 20, 2023 at 5:51 pm
Oh, it would indeed! Yes, that is one happy rose, and I’d not be surprised if the bees and butterflies were hovering off-camera waiting their chance to play. “Taking turns,” you know.
January 20, 2023 at 6:53 pm
Maureen, are you paying attention to what you and your muse started here? I can’t tell you how much fun it is to read all the comments. I swear you and Dan grew up with the same parents as me!
How many times did you hear, “ Don’t be sneaking anything to eat. You’ll spoil your supper”?
When you make a comeback from a writer’s slump, you sure do it in style. 🤙
January 20, 2023 at 7:27 pm
Thank you, Ginger! Yes, I’ve been laughing here at all the memory-jogs! It does seem as though our parents played the same recorded messages! My mother all but dug a moat around the refrigerator to keep us from eating before dinner!