False Innocence

When I was 10, I lived in a new addition,

a neighborhood of houses on winding roads

plopped right between cornfields and woods,

Indiana farm country.  I was never allowed

to ride my bicycle to the drugstore

where other kids bought sodas and sweets,

but then I have always scorned shopping.

With no adult guidance,

if I wanted, I could spend the entire day

smashing down little rooms in the corn,

following trails in the forest,

or the creek meandering

through my kingdom.  My friends and I

would scoop out mud,

collect logs, and create deep pools

from our clumsily-constructed dams.

We would creek stomp, look for frogs,

collect rocks and travel to distant lands

as long as I responded promptly

to my mother’s echoing

dinnertime call.  I learned quickly to go far, far

early in the day and slowly make my way

back home, so that I could appear

with an innocent look belied by mud-caked

jeans, dirt-encrusted fingers and toes.

When my own sons were young,

right after we settled near a big park

with an interesting creek, the police caught a man

who was frightening children.

And so ensuing explorations were curtailed

by an ever-present watchful adult.

They paid the consequences

for atrocities committed seven generations back

by their own ancestors who seized

the fenceless lands and did unspeakable

things to the children who lived there.

How do we confess to our descendants

the very foundation of this so-called freedom?

How do we admit to ourselves

that this headlong rush to disaster

— the one we call daily life —

is based on the unbearable grief

we’ve built our lives upon?

Can we ever open our hearts

to claim those dark deeds?

To confess:  this beautiful home is built on bones

savaged by the brutality

I carry in my very DNA.

I cannot claim innocence,

not any longer,

for my grandchildren are doomed

if I stay silent.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: meander

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Published by

Victoria Stuart

I'm a poet, philosopher and inner seeker. A giver, lover and a healer who studies the heart.

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