TCR Holiday Special 1998

Charles Harper Webb


Charles Harper Webb
webb.jpg (3700 bytes) As the years move on, Charles reflects on his childhood memories and showcases his holiday spirit with the new poem, Croquet.


Croquet    Click to hear RealAudio

Certain as the tree on Christmas morning,
when I make my December visits home
the croquet set will magically spring up.

Soon my sister Carol and I are screaming
"Poison!"—falling down and shrieking "Yaaah!"
when we get killed, like little kids—or like

we like to think they do. Since we were never
good, we don't show lack of practice.
We slam our mallets into wooden balls striped

like jawbreakers, and gallop after them
across our ex-backyard. The swingset's gone;
our oak third base is too, felled by the hurricane

that smashed our poor diamond like glass.
We slam the balls and watch them skitter past
intended wickets, along basepaths lost

in grass, past the "spider tree" down which,
twenty years back, a hand-sized horror
crawled. We slam the balls and watch them wallow

through pineneedles, past the tool shed Daddy
built, then got too old to use, under
the clothesline displaced by a washer/dryer,

through the long-gone turtle pen beneath
the vanished treehouse, bisecting the spot
where in the dark, Mom reading fifty feet away,

I unhooked my first brassiere, and Sherri
spilled into my hands. Where pet tyrannosaurs
crashed through thick pines, a redwood fence

partitions off all-brick "estates" that make
our wooden house look small. A pedigreed
bull terrier slams against the wall, rabid

to hamstring our low-class fun. But the fence
holds. And when our game is done,
we run inside to where our parents wait,
both in their right minds, thanks be to Something,
though Daddy gets confused, and Mom is going
deaf. Still, there they stand, smiling to see

their children playing just as always. And we sit,
hugging mugs of hot cocoa, and as Bing
Crosby croons "Silent Night," try not to hear—

outside where once we listened hard for sleighs
and reindeer—the moon bowl over shifting skies
as time trundles swiftly through the trees.


Back to The Cortland Review