by Barefoot Justine
I came to be, under suburban skies more blue than Penny Lane,
A carnival-sweet breeze, the air crisp and green as a Granny Smith,
Sundrenched, adrift, a leaf in the Kool-Aid streets of my childhood,
But I was no child, it was now, I was me, No homework on my back.
Grown up or not, I was still the barefoot girl, same as I knew,
Though conspicuous, brazen, topless, tan and deliciously lost,
The air whispering silk and feather nothings across my breasts,
The streets kissing tar and shard threats under my feet and toes.
Children ran by with streamers and smiles flown high as kites,
Their day-off moms and dads, blissful as candy-apple Buddhas,
A market, a fair, Rockwell painting with all the trimmings,
And I stealing home, and I me, one with, but not one of, them.
A feral flush of tingling joy and naughty nervousness teased me,
In rhythm with each delicious step of barefoot summertime freedom,
Drinking a soda pop cocktail of wild abandon and giggly paranoia,
For what if I was spied, discovered, disapproved of or busted?
My nipples plump as strawberries and ruddy as Bollywood skin,
Pointing the way to ecstasies timed to roller coaster heartbeats,
My toes flexible, the chill air licking tickles between them,
As I, a Red Riding Hood, scurried, climbed, snuck and hurried.
Triangulating between three errands and three states of feeling,
Confusion, how to cover the miles and find my way in my errands,
Terror, I might be busted, copped and jailed topless with pot,
Delight, in getting away with my own hot-buttered drive-in movie.
In shorts alone, tattered denim, bells, toe-rings and bangles,
Long curls, brown here, red there, and hippie in the highlights,
Me a flurry of pink and purple, denim and cheap belled jewelry,
My dark chocolate eyes lit like sparklers under disco eyeshadow,
The silk to silk softness of arms rubbing against ribs a reminder,
I was bare breasted, my porcelain belly creamy as vanilla pudding,
Climbing up and jumping down my teacup breasts bobbled and fizzed,
Each jiggle a jarring reminder that I was more than half-naked.
I was Bardot, I was Mara, I was Hazel, I was barefoot Justine,
I was topless in public, my body, a playground, my day a funhouse,
Unimpressed and scarcely oppressed by pragmatism and patriarchy,
Too slinky and sly to let them shame me, tame me or tie me down,
Oh I dreamt every cinnamon and sugar tremble of panic as I went,
Down towards a busy road, buzzing before the miles yet to go,
How could I do it, bare as I was, how would I bear the crowds,
How could I ride this wild tiger, could I make her Shakti mine?
Every block a new adventure, a carnival of sensual delights,
And around each corner surprises, changes in the world I knew,
But all for the better, the streets of nostalgia an exotic bazaar,
I was Valerie, and this was my week of wonders, but all in a day.
I talked with a lady, Though she looked at me, she kept her cool,
“Wow! This is so different, not what I recall,” I said to her.
She glanced at my tits, saying dreamy stuff with marshmallows.
“But I love this place… it’s like Orlando Ohio,” I laughed.
And it was, a curious alley of sculpted delights, a trip, a fancy,
A shopping festival, a parade built right into the walls around,
Colorful as cartoons, and shiny round shapes like daisies and dances,
Like my smile, but spilled out, sculpted and polished top to bottom.
How delicious, the day, trickling like sweet chai in my throat,
How delightful, the ginger warmth of it like curry on my tongue,
An open mouth awaiting each savory bite, each drip and swallow,
One girl, I, running wild through a suburb of earhtly delights.
Each person I passed, shocked, surprised, envious, but indifferent,
Helping me along here, sneering me a warning there, and all as one,
And me as one in them… but for the cops, those bad Blue Meanies,
Trailing me like dogs to take me down like the fair Draupadi…
Though I was already stripped, and all the same, running and hiding,
Ducking around corners when I saw their dark blue battle suits,
And me, child of the forest, running like a stalked and hunted doe,
Tickled as a flushing virgin bride and chuckling like a whore.
I woke up.
But at least in dreams I’d returned, and stole this home as mine,
Free at last, to live the colors of Saturday Morning cartoons,
Free at last to shed the past and dance alive my own fairy tale,
If only for an afternoon, if only for a dream, if not forever…