Stomping: A Poem by Erica Gilman

Art by Patrick Driscoll

By Erica Gilman

 

The old stomping ground,

a quiet, shaded graveyard.

We used to walk trails

and sneak in over the back wall.

A place we once went,

hiding from parents,

hopping over stones,

playing over those long forgotten.

 

A place where at 10

I bit into stolen apples

with my babysitter,

wondering if there was a shiny world

beyond the plastic of my Barbies.

I counted my dreams

like apple seeds,

as I spit them

out into the open air.

I would press my small frame

into the grass,

and just breathe.

 

A place where at 14

I took a high school boy

to kiss on the hill.

Looking up at the clouds

and thinking

“Wow, that looks like an apple”

“Wow, what a big world”

The sky was so far

yet we never thought

we would be the ones

to leave the ground.

 

A place where at 16

I sat in my boyfriend’s car

thinking I would never leave,

thinking this was it.

Eating apples

on the graves of lovers before.

We were just two kids

trying to jump off the ground,

trying to catch ourselves

some air time.

 

The old stomping ground

A place I thought

I would never leave

until suddenly

I was 18

and I couldn’t remember

the last time I had been there,

couldn’t remember

the last time I stole an apple.

The sky wasn’t so far off,

but there had been many times,

I thought I would be under the grass.

lying six feet down,

not breathing,

not jumping.

 

The old stomping ground.

I came here years ago.

Over time,

lifting one foot at a time,

one leg up, the other follows,

one arm goes into the air

trying to catch the things

I seem to just keep losing.

It wasn’t the memories

of rotten apples,

or fat lips

I am holding onto like balloons,

it’s the memories of those

little moments

I decided to jump

one more time,

and the space between

the grass and the sky.

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