By Travis Stephens
Around the vast cedar tree
the girl is circling.
A pony, she says, I’m on a pony.
Three steps behind, the feral boy
says no, you’re not, but his forever
clogged nose, snotty nose, made him
sound as if he were underwater.
He is suffering from the early
onset symptoms of first love.
My pony can prance, she says,
and skips in flashes of patent leather.
This is May, almost June. Snow
has gone back to where it comes from
and in a few weeks he will never
see her again.
Later his therapist would encourage him
to use memory as “a springboard to emotion”,
as if his emotions were very far away.
In truth his hard face and blue
eyes made him seem distant, like
a blackjack dealer or sometimes
killer. Emotions were the rage
and despair he tried to bury,
the mystery that intrigued new
lovers and left them uneasy.
There were good reasons not to
keep a gun in the house, reasons
why he had a large family that
lived far away. In memory’s
darkened rooms a young girl is
circling a tree, prancing, while a
boy, hopeful still, tries to keep up.
Travis Stephens was raised on a dairy farm. He earned a degree at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, before departing for the West Coast. Stephens became a sea captain and now resides in California. He has been published in the Upriver anthology, NOTA, Stoneboat Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Havik, and Pennsylvania English. His was a Poem of the Week for Silver Needle Press and other work will appear in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature the winter of 2018.