At Cherry-Tree Lane

“You’ll forget because you can’t help it. There never was a human being that remembered after the age of one – at the very latest – except of course, Her.” And he jerked his head over his shoulder at Mary Poppins. – PL Travers

I tell stories to myself
instead of having breakfast.
I do it because I remember too much
and “too much” is never good.


I saw somebody sitting on the curb and he
had already asked the policeman at the crossroads.
First to your right, second to your left,
sharp right again, and you’re there. Good morning.
I believe that that somebody
was blown here by a tornado from Kansas
or from a land somewhere nobody knew.
It made me hurt to see
her leaving the house every morning with the carpet bag,
one little boy and one little girl holding her by the hand,
and she walked pass that somebody,
sitting there on the curb.
It made me sad to see
the way she kissed the chimney sweeper on the cheek
and walked back home with the wind.
She knew that somebody, I suspected, but it was still sad –
the kind of sad Barrie talked about when he wrote:
“Wendy was married in white with a pink sash. It is strange
to think that Peter did not alight in the church
and forbid the banns.”
I wondered if she had ever been that sad –
and whether that somebody was only just a somebody
and not just someone who is a somebody
and that the devil had lied.
I know you do not remember
that there was a somebody sitting there.
So here I am – telling you the story:
for once there was a tin-man who was in love with Mary Poppins
but she flew away with her umbrella
and the tin-man had no heart.


So I live
with ghosts that I made
and the ghosts that made me.

Original illustration by Mary Shepard


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