The House Next Door

The large white house next door With the country-size lawn in the city setting, A long driveway that paves through Neatly rounded bushes To the distant carriage barn. It wasn't enough for us kids That the old man's lawn held The best climbing tree in town. One breathless rush One strong-armed pull-up To a hidden world of rare green rooms, A mansion tree branching With dangerous weepy wings.

No, the tree wasn't enough. It was the once-wonderful, Now wondrous carriage barn That lured us. A much riskier dash Across the open green - Lush, clipped short, slippery.

Then loomed the larger courage - Pulling aside the heavy whitewashed door Scraping the black wrought iron latch, Inching the thick wood just far enough For a slim body to slide sideways, Still catching some seersucker or a braid.

Once safely behind the splintering wood, We headed for the center-smooth ladder steps That betrayed us by talking back As we whispered our way to the loft.

Here we lay on wide tobacco-colored boards Looking through the spired opening Where hay once was lifted, Each pretending, without saying, We owned this wedding-cake-white house On the spring-green tablecloth.

We stayed for hours. Smells of old leather and damp ashes, Bits of hay that prickled unnoticed.

In this golden flame-faded space I was Tom Sawyer, Peter Pan, Nancy Drew - Until the distant call to dinner.

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