Tar Heel Bred
by DCDave

Mine was a privileged childhood.
Often I got to fall asleep
To the surprisingly soothing, satisfying din
Of raindrops rattling on the tin
Of our weathered, wood-sheathed house.
And when, on a sweltering summer day,
The wind and the rain would come and go
My brother and I would hurry out and dam the rushing waters
That made rivulets over the sandy soil
Beneath the heavy oaks under whose shade
Nothing grew except insects and children.

We were barefoot boys in harmony with the lesser creatures
As long as we didn't defy the odds
And run too much over clovered lawns
Where honey bees made their busy rounds.
Soles toughened by six months of freedom a year
Could take almost anything
Except the dying, defiant sting
Of a stepped-on honey bee.

But the occasional misstep was the last thing on our minds
When, as soon as we got home from school,
On the first warm day of spring,
We begged our mother to let us dispense with our shoes.
Barefootedness we considered our greatest privilege,
For which we would freely grovel and take chances.

David Martin

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