Featured Poet: Barbara Bald, Alton
Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and free-lance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire and For Loving Precious Beast. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests including the Rochester Poet Laureate Contest, Lisbon’s Fall Festival of Art Contest, Conway Library’s Annual Contest, Goodwin Library’s Annual Contest, and The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s National and Member Contests. Her new full-length book is called Drive-Through Window.
At a Native American celebration, I was privileged to witness a little girl and her friend playing in a field. Her freedom from self-consciousness, her total self-acceptance and complete immersion in what the moment offered mesmerized me. Then, I slipped into regret—thinking about all the judgements laid upon myself and others as we grew up. I began postulating if and when that might happen to her. Watching some of that "freedom from" and "freedom to" re-emerge in myself as I age, I ended the poem questioning when that return to innocence might happen for her and, ultimately, all of us.
Let’s pretend, she said to her friend
running down the hill in the opposite direction.
Let’s pretend, she said to the sky, to the air,
to the field around her.
Arms held high, as if performing for God,
she danced in a white long-sleeved blouse
and a plaid skirt over black knee-highs.
Blond hair blowing in fall breezes,
her hips gyrated to the beat in her head,
like Tinker Bell savoring Never-Never-Land.
Waving like one of those lilies of the field
that lives carefree under divine protection,
she touched tall grasses,
holding deep conversations with them.
Watched from a distance,
she did not hide in embarrassment––rather,
she heightened the pitch of her twirling
with the air of a princess pleasing her subjects.
How long would it take for her to lose
that spark of self-absorption,
that feeling that she was enough?
Perhaps some teacher would criticize
her crayoned elephant,
a parent would tell her kissing donkeys
wasn’t proper or friends wouldn’t choose her
for their softball team?
When would she become self-conscious
or ashamed, pulling in like a threatened turtle?
How old a woman would she have to be
to start talking to grasses again?
For more on Barbara Bald:
Barbara can be reached and her book purchased by writing: Barbara Bald, 21 Finethy Rd., Alton, NH 03809.