Harrisburg schoolyard

Old roads traveled again, to places familiar. Places change and roads remain. Signs neglected as their namesake beckon.

Harrisburg schoolyard still in the same place, but the children are gone. The villages dotting the old 3C wither upon tenuous vines. The bricks are all still connected, with boards on her windows. With these blind eyes she stares across the lot, seeing black, white, shades of grey.

None remained here to claim their legacy. Now we are the spawn of wicked spirit, expected to atone for the sins of our fathers. Our parents voted for Nixon and were appalled when we should besmirch the law. We left these places to be left alone somewhere else because our debts will never be paid.

Tempted away, follow the lane from memory long. The library gone and the grass uncut; weeds poke through cracks in the asphalt, in waves to crash upon crumbling steps. Her stories tower still; imprisoned, her doors chained shut, yet when feet touch ground shuttered orbs blink.

A world grown alight, filmed in monovision, we come alive within the celluloid. 1972; the poingk! of the red, playground ball. It sails past the diamond fence to grapevine and briar beyond. There is Mr. Montgomery in his cardigan green, his pipe casts wreaths about his head. His back to the library, the smoke forms mirthful leprechauns like the ones that live in his soul.

Penny Hemphill in your gingham dress, we were both tall and gangly. Your kiss was soft, but we were innocent. We could not know to want more. I wondered for years later, did your eyelids remain so pink. I imagined playing dot-to-dot on your freckles and would you know me now?

We laughed at National Geographics, though we didn’t really know why. Hiding from Mrs. Schmidt in her campaign t-shirt, scowling over her pince nez. Mr. Montgomery visits with his son. Rides his bike there every day for lunch. Home from the war and never right again, but for us he was just David. It made Mr. Montgomery happy, and it made him sad.

There are no more teachers, no more students in this place. Harrisburg playground is empty before her long, brick shadow. If waters have not claimed her in fifty years I may visit again.