When I was five, running and skipping down the street
were the only ways I traveled. Propelled by the warmth of the sun
on my face and the pure exhilaration of being alive, I was completely oblivious
to others. Being judged was not even a seed germinating in my mind.
When I was five, my mother was the sun and the moon
and all the stars shimmering in the Milky Way. I harbored no doubts
as to whether I was worthy of love. I just was.
When I was five, I didn’t understand what it meant to be poor,
and I frolicked with the neighborhood kids, delighting in any child
that would play “Mother May I” with me. Never a consideration
that my hand me down clothes might be anything to be ashamed of.
When I was five, I relished a hot dog as if it were a gourmet meal,
and a 15 cent ice cream cone was a gift from the gods.
Joyously splashing chocolate everywhere, I savored
every drop of that liquid perfection.
When I was five, a puddle was meant to be jumped in
and a snowstorm was a cause for celebration.
Dancing in the snow, mouth open wide, I would try and catch
the crystalline snowflakes on my tongue.
Each individual snowflake a wonder, not an inconvenience
When I was five I never had to think about what it meant to be happy.
I just was. I was open to the possibility that every wish in my head
could become a reality and I was deserving of all my dreams coming true.
Never plagued with doubts or insecurities.
Many years have passed, and I am a grandma now to two tiny children.
And they are the sun and the moon and all the stars shimmering in the Milky Way.
As I play with my grandchildren in the time of Covid-19,
I am grateful for their innocence; their ability to fully embrace the joy in life,
even in this global pandemic.
And sometimes, as we are savoring a tea party with peanut butter sandwiches,
I close my eyes, and just for a moment I am transported back in time,
once again free to bask in the unbridled joy of just being a human being.
Peggy Gerber is a poet and short story writer from Northern, New Jersey. She is the 2021 winner of the Open Contract Challenge and author of the poetry chapbook Stumbling in CrazyTown. Her works can be found in many publications including Better than Starbucks, Daily Science Fiction and The World of Myth Magazine.