A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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Renee Owen


Red Rover, Red Rover

As a kid, I spend summers at YMCA day camp with my cousin Mikey. Small-town Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. We compete for points in games of Red Rover and Capture the Flag. Archery, my very favorite. Coveted little trophies line my dresser back home in Florida. Reminders of my daredevil summers. Mack, the camp counselor, an ex-Marine with a gray crew cut. He holds our respect in his beefy hands. When we get out of line, his eyes turn to steel. In his sternest voice, he says, treehugging. The crazy camp bully spends most of his time wrapped around a big one.

boys will be boys—
beating up on me
for a kiss

Mack’s my hero. But it’s his teenage assistant who by night sneaks into my dreams. I count the days before my next visit. Like sheep, it lulls me back to dreamland.

in the warm breeze—
his crooked grin

With summer, comes Maw-Maw. She and I again make the long train ride to Virginia. Finally there. Nightfall. I ready my clothes for the next morning, another first day of camp. She comes in, sits on my bed. Says, now honey, you’re not going back to camp this year. You’re twelve, not a kid anymore. Of course your cousin Mikey’s still going. He’s a year younger. Besides, he’s a boy. You’re a young lady now. You can stay home with me.

Maw-Maw brews
hot whiskey and honey—
first blood

the pale corn and I
grow plump—
long, hot summer

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