Poetry May 2009

Under the Maypole

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Ribbons, pearl and purple,
dangle from the maypole
down to the pale
hands of children, who pull
them, giggling. They purl
in breezes, and almost rumple.
Under the old eyes of a principal
whose narrow glance is ample
to subdue but not appall,
the children spill
around the skinned and limbless maple
as if outside the temple
of a declining god of simple
rituals easily met. Bells peal.
Old tunes impose their spell
on the awkward small feet they impel
around the resurrection pole.
The pattern’s simple,
plaiting boy to pearl
and girl to purple,
and when their fingers touch the pole
and the ribbons, at last, rumple,
no lips purse, no faces crumple
except one teacher’s, and I can’t spoil
the day’s innocent and uninnocent appeal,
which terminates April’s
cold intermittent pall.

Andrew Hudgins’s most recent collection is Shut Up, You’re Fine: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children (2009). He teaches at Ohio State University.
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