A Peddler’s Rounds


A sign at the edge of the village reads
‘Home of the 1989 Cherry Festival Queen’
twenty-five years after the end of her reign.
I’ll pass through a dozen villages
on my peddler’s rounds this day.

I wonder if she’s still here,
her court now consisting
of regulars at the Legion’s fish fry,
where they profess their pride
but share her secret shame:
for all her gifts, she never left this place.
They would leave –
of course they would –
if they only had the chance.

I cheer myself by deciding
she founded a home for children,
somewhere with a lot of orphans,
and made love with rock stars
before breaking their hearts.

Warming to the task,
I’m sure she sips
champagne with royalty
and brings beautiful children
here each summer,
happy that friends no longer fear
her somewhere-else beauty.

These thoughts are filtered
through memories of my own,
and I murmur a quiet prayer
that time has not stood still for her
as it has for her hometown,
as it sometimes has for me.

Just let her be happy, I pray,
and drive on to the next village
with stories of its own.

(There really is such a sign, and I hope she’s well.)

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A New Poem Every Monday
(tho’ sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved