Tuesday, August 11, 2009


My boy will be eleven this week. Eleven. I remember being eleven. At eleven, I ran free with a gang of kids; we garden raided, lit cookfires down by the river, jumped onto train cars for rides, held seances, predicted our futures with a ouija board, lured boys into kissing games, watched naughty movies, and experimented with someone's mother's wine and BC bud. Wow. I can't imagine my own child doing any of those things. Maybe it's true that girls grow up faster. Or maybe times really have changed.


And the wind caught your hair

In that secret place we built, high in the sands
a cave, hollowed hand over hand
between summer-curled willow knolls

And the wind caught your hair, tousled it golden

Digging just a little further each time, discreet
while the adults did adult things, resolved
to issue frail warnings, glass of wine in hand

And the wind caught your hair, tousled golden shards of sand

The adults did adult things, and hinted how
the earth may fight back against
this scar and collapse, smothering us foolish

And the wind caught golden shards of sand, raining down

So we snuggled in, backs pressed
sinewy long, browned legs lanky, and told stories
of the boys we would lure here to kiss

And the wind caught your hair

Rachel Westfall
August 11, 2009


Rikkij said...

Rach- made me think of the song "isn't it a pity, when Irish girls grow up" I hope it wasn't boones farm. I still can't look at the stuff. Loved your poem. The wind was our friend, our ally, our playmate. It did wonderful things to hair. Thanks for reminding me. ~rick

Kyddryn said...

Lovely, and sweetly evocative of the time between ages...between the days when life is play and the days when it becomes business, business, business....

Shade and Sweetwater,

Karen said...

Beautiful poem, Rachel. I love the contrast between the kids and the adults. Oh, and by the way, your eleven year old self sounds amazingly like mine. You just need to add that we were sneaking cigarettes but no wine. Our parents didn't drink wine -- ever hear of "homebrew"?

joaquin carvel said...

this feels so much like eleven - too old for us to think mom & dad know everything but just shy of feeling like we do - knowing where the danger is so we know when we're having fun. the smiles i see on these faces are beautiful.

Woman in a Window said...

Rachel, it blows against me, this does, as a truth, a beautiful, sweet truth. Eleven. (Insert whistle - whooo-wee!)

Rob-bear said...

Gee, what was it like
for me to be eleven?
Hmmmm . . .
Well, no matter.
It happened for year
a long time ago.
I survived.
So will your boy.
It's you I'm worried about.

Kit said...

This is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful memory... "the adults did adult things" is great, as that's how it always seems in childhood.

Times have changed, though, I think you're right: my little brother was 11 two years ago, and I remember thinking how weird it was that he doesn't remember before there were computers, or Game Boys, or Internet, or cell phones, or anything like that. The activity level is the same, but all the pastimes are a bit more... wired, I guess? Weird.

RachelW said...

Rick, and the wind told us what was coming, carried the smell of autumn's dry leaves at the beginning of the school year, and brought that sniff of snow long before the white stuff actually ever reached us.

Kyddryn, we must remember how to play... how could we ever forget?

Karen, haha! Yes, common experiences. Moonshine, too.

Joaquin, you are so right! Thanks for putting it like that.

Erin, the wind carries your whistle right back at you! :)

Rob, and I survived, too. Thanks for your words; they touched a nerve somehow.

Kit, thanks!

Joseph, yes, it is weird. Wired.

Poetikat said...

I love the italicized refrain and the repeated lines - almost like a vilanelle. You're right; nostalgia is kicking in at this point in time.


Julie said...

Oh, so beautiful! I love the poem, Rachel. It is full of wonderful images and feelings. I was just telling someone how my friends and I used to take our boats to the "Cape" or wild horse banks (islands) when we were ten and eleven. Can you imagine a boat full of unsupervised kids going across the sound to the ocean? Oh, what freedom and adventures we had. I feel sorrow for kids who don't have a happy childhood, though. Thankfully, mine felt like your beautiful poem.

Fat Arse said...

Christ that's a beautiful poem Rachel.

When I was eleven I discovered consciousness - been trying to lose it ever since!

Aniket said...

You didn't get much gifts from Santa when you were 11, did you? :D :D :D

You did an awful lot of fun things back then. I was Mr. Niceguy back then. But I turned over to the dark side when I was 14. :P


Rachel, the pureness, the clarity, the simple strength of this one "tousled" my mind and "blew" me back into those endless summer days of secrets that smiled such obvious dimpled smiles we thought our parents couldn't see.

Catvibe said...

Everything they said and more...I read this the other day but I think I must have had the phone ring or something happened to distract me from commenting. The shards of sand in the hair, oooh. To be 11, or to be watching 11 from an adult remembering 11, such an interesting contrast living both here and there at the same moment, and seeing the differences. I don't know what kind of freedoms you have up there, but, like Julie, my freedoms here were much much larger than what today's kids live like. They find their freedoms in front of a computer, we found them outside roaming nature. I wonder how that will affect the world in general, as a whole?

BC bud at 11? Gotcha beat. Not sure if that's a score or not. ;-)

fullonmommy said...

Oh this was so fancy free. Although I was still trying to set ants on fire with shards of glass when i was eleven and not quite doing such sophisticated things...i know these scenes well, full of fun, of promise of life being all that we could want, driven by hormones, by purity and instinct. and the security of the parent with the wineglass, hey kids, be good! as they stumble back to their party. i love that.

Mike-Mike said...

Eleven years young! What a wonderful time it was. I remember, I do :).

Happy-happy Eleven to that wonderful boy of yours; your blood! Journey-On, Bela! A pleasure to know you.

Rachel: Your words are caught by the wind and carried far and wide; forever!

"And the wind caught your hair">>Beautiful, I say!

And your words, your energy, yours thoughts caught my attention; My heart ;).

Eleven years young, I do remember, too.

Thank you!!....xxxxxsssss

Crafty Green Poet said...

parents are much less likely to let their children run free than they used to be, times have changed....my parents however were ahead of their time and didn't let me run free back then...lovely poem...

RachelW said...

Kat, thanks!

Julie, your comments are always such a gift. :) The wild horse banks sound so wonderfully enticing. Yeah, we sure had more freedom than kids do today.

FA, good to see you're still alive and kicking, if not conscious! :-)

Aniket, now 14 is another story... ;)

PPVF, thanks for your sweet words!

Cat, teehee! Not a score, I think.

fullonmommy, thank you so much :)

Mike-mike, hmmm.... sigh ;)

Juliet, yes I expect there are exceptions to every norm, and there are probably plenty of kids running wild still today.

holly said...

Such wonderful rhythm and sound! I love the imagery as well...excellent poem!