After School

A touching memory of childhood joy on the ice.

Poem and photo by Richard M. Barrett, a poet of Mohawk, NY

The creaky school bus door slams shut behind us

and we take off running the half block home,

racing against fading daylight,

changing, bundling up,

grabbing sticks and skates

and meeting at the frozen pond,

to live our dreams of becoming legends ourselves,

knowing deep down it could never be,

but why not make pretend, at least for today?

We kick off warm boots and pull on freezing cold skates,

bare fingers hurriedly lacing,

then gloves on, pick up sticks, and away we go!

Gliding along with a wind rushing by our ears,

And hearing the sounds we wait for all year.

The thwack! that echoes when rubber meets wood;

The resounding shwoosh! when steel edge shaves ice;

The chorus of cheers when a goal is scored;

The occasional crack that gives us pause.

We play on anyway, until darkness falls,

And we trudge back home, legs weary,

Skates and sticks slung over shoulders,

Rosy cheeks, runny noses, and ravenous,

just in time for the roast coming out of the oven.

Homework, a bath, and a warm bed,

With a simple prayer and a distant dream

of becoming legends in our minds again,

tomorrow after school.


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