December 1, 2007

Lit by Chicks

The Lost Adults of Neverland

by Colleen Redman

I don’t want to grow up …I don’t want to wear a tie … and a serious expression in the middle of July … ~ Song from Peter Pan

Before I knew that Pan
was the goat god of wild creatures
I wanted to be Peter
Not so much because he could fly
But because he wouldn’t grow up

Before I knew that a grown woman
named Mary Martin was playing Peter’s part
I already didn’t want to wear a tie
Or bra, or garter belt

Before I knew that the Catholic Church
turned Pan into the devil
stole his horns and hooves
changed his pipes to snakes
his pasture into a fallen Eden
I had a crush on John Darling
even though he wore glasses
and a girl’s nightgown like mine

Wendy was invisible to me
until the Beach Boys sang about her
A California girl with a tan
She went to the beach with Tiger Lilly
who wore a bikini

My mother raised five lost boys
My father was a pirate
And before I knew that a pipe playing Pan
could elicit Pan-ic in the hearts of men
I was struck with an anxiety disorder
that made my hands shake
too heavy to lift
too tired to clap for an ailing fairy

I didn’t want to need a mother
or be afraid of my father
or face the croc who swallowed the clock
and knew my real age

Before I learned that Pan was a nature spirit
whose name meant “to pasture”
I had already moved to the country
I understood the importance of the shadow
and taught my sons to sew

They played on the ledge
behind our living room curtains
“Can you see Neverland? I asked them
“Have you met Tinkerbell?”

I wore a feather in my hair
like Peter wore in his cap
fell in love with a John named Joe
sewed a fallen hem with the point of my pen
and jumped off the plank into the underworld

I found the flower child in Peter
the poet, and the courage to clap for myself
I danced on the ledge and looked down
saw the flickering light
that threatened darkness
was the promise Peter made
told to innocent children
while time was ticking

Where is the pixie dust?
Will my children be snatched?
Am I too old to skip or sit on the sidewalk?
Will I see a white light and tunnel
on my way to Neverland?

Before I knew that Pan was a lustful old man
and that Peter was lonely when the boys went home
I was a child who knew I’d never fly
I was a girl determined
not to join the ranks
of the lost adults of Neverland
not be tied to a 9 to 5
wearing panty hose and stilettos
in the middle of July

From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Colleen writes to synthesize what she is learning at the time, whether it be poetry, a political commentary, or a letter to her mother in Hull, Massachusetts, where she is originally from. Whenever she doesn't know exactly what it is she is doing and it borders on wasting her time, she calls it research. ‘Dear Abby, How can I get rid of freckles?’ was her first published piece at the age of 11.
Colleen's full bio can be found at her blog, Loose Leaf Notes.