When you were a child,
How did you play?

Before reading any further,
Pause. Recall.

Remember the smell of play.
Its delicious tastes.

Remember your heart
In your ears, the steady

Pulse of white noise.
How exciting! The feeling

Of surrendering all senses—
Two disembodied eyes.

For that is what you were,
Floating, timeless,

Now. Observing who
You were. You were lost

At play. You weren’t in your
Body! At play, you

Projected dream.
I saw you. I was there

Too. Three, four, five
I dug in the cool West

Virginia soil, finding myself
On the other side

Of walnut roots and
Mouse nests. I didn’t claim

This made any sense!
Medicinal, becoming lost.

They say the soul sits
Just below the belly button,

In front of the spine. This
Core compelled me into the

Warping woods, summer salted
Skies, fluffed rabbits flouncing

Through the clouds, the living
Fingers of trolls excavated

Beneath tree stumps.
Liberated, lost, throwing off

Clothes, stomping naked up
The emerald-cress creek,

Rainbow dace flashing,
Worm toes in the chocolate

Pudding mud, wading
Upstream as the current

Dissolved my footprints,
My penis a witching wand

Dowsing me towards
Source, towards the silver

Spring, towards the gray
Broken limestone trickling

Cold water, dark water
From hundreds of miles

Distant, drank drunk in
Pennsylvania to flow into

The light across my pink
Feet. Oh, water! What

Did you see in the darkness?
I flew there, the crystalled

Grottoes, the braille of
Sinkholes mapping the

Valley floor, and I visited
Every one unchaperoned,

Squeezed through the
Hairline cracks, witnessed

The blind newts, the blue,
Glowing mosses, the colorless

Water in the caverns’ darknesses,
Unseen for five hundred

Million years. Not bad for a
Kid! And do you want to

Know what happened
Next? When I returned—

To my body, I mean—sun-
Burned and smelling of

Catnip and lily pads,
I retraced to discover

That my clothes had been
Stolen! I’m being literal here,

This really happened, and I
Walked back barefoot across

The thistled pastures to
My grandparent’s farmhouse

No longer playful but
Naked as Eve, aware of

My shame, the soul of my
Belly spasmed with sobs.

Oh, little one! This world.
My clothes had been taken

By Jim, a farmhand with five
Young children. He didn’t know.

How could he? My clothes
Were returned. The cruel

Day dispelled, carried down-
Stream to the Shenandoah,

The olivine Potomac, the
Chesapeake Bay and the

Atlantic, until, rising, rising,
It fell once more against

Pennsylvania. It’s hard
Not to take this all

Seriously, isn’t it, to allow
Our clothes to be stolen—

Naked at play without shame.
I’ve never forgotten

How to play. I’ve only
Forgotten, sometimes,

For a little while, where
I go when I’m not here.