[Poetry] — Kathryn de Leon

THE BLUE WHIP

He lived in a tiny wooden shed
at the far end of the school field
beyond the safe green
of our play area
where the grass turned suddenly evil.

Don’t wear blue to school
was whispered.
He pulls kids like rag dolls
into his shed, whips them senseless.
You won’t stand a chance.

When my mother put me in my blue dress
one school morning,
I couldn’t tell her the truth.
I wore the dress like a secret bruise.
I went to school aching with blue,
too much blue for one so young.

How easy it was for us to believe.
Santa Claus 
Fairies
Monsters under the bed
The Blue Whip.
We never doubted.

What happens to this trust,
these beliefs,
these unquestioned fantasies,
of childhood?

We shed them like old skin,
drop them like the empty stages
of a moving rocket.

Irretrievable,
they cannot help us find heaven,
the spirits of loved ones,
miracles,

even love.

MAGIC CHRISTIAN 1972-1973

I.

I became a Christian when I was sixteen.
Suddenly,
as if by magic,             
Christianity out of the blue
with no warning like a free trial of a product
I’d never heard of, no obligation,
dropped in my lap.

While my friends 
were discovering sex and drugs 
I was watching sunrays reach through clouds,
sure they were the arms of angels beckoning me.

The small red bible
that had been on my bookshelf for years                                
stayed in my hands for months.

I spent my days searching above
for glimpses of heaven and finding them.                        

The sky lent me its white robes.
Heaven leaned toward me
so close I could touch it.

I watched moving clouds
soften the sky with holiness
then pass their pure hands over me,
blessing me and healing 
the sadness of my young life.

Death no longer had meaning.

I was waiting for something,
though I was not sure what.

II.

I don’t remember how or when it all stopped.

One morning the sky woke up 
and became its old self.
Clouds lined up 
bringing shadows and rain then went away
as before.

The red bible went back on the shelf.
It was as if those months had never happened.

The magic was gone.

But the sky is still there and I believe
still full of hidden answers.

I just hope heaven is up there where I left it,
nearly fifty years ago.

*

Kathryn de Leon is from Los Angeles, California but has been living in England for eleven years.
She is a teacher and lived in Japan for six years teaching English to Japanese university students.
Her poems have appeared in several magazines in the US including Calliope, Aaduna, and Black
Fox, and in the UK in The Blue Nib, Trouvaille Review, morphrog, Snakeskin, Ofi Press, The High
Window where she was the Featured American Poet, and others.