The Moya View

Childhood 1: Visiting the Land of Make Believe

Image credit: https://katerinakouzmitcheva.com/
This is not a true story but 
the expression of a wish
of a poor Bronx girl
on Christmas Day.

There were Christmas gifts
but they flew out the window
in a drunken father’s rage.

There was a menagerie set
with a Jesus in a manger,
cows, sheep, pig, donkeys,
two collies, a pony and a camel,
but all was shattered
to pieces, now existing
as porcelain dust among
the faded gold carpet,
the beer cans
the dripping rum bottles,
the vomit on the wrapping
paper stamped with jolly Santas.

But this is not his story
and will never be.

This is not even the story of her,
the 6 year old girl huddled
in a dark room with
a fading lamp and
peeling rose wallpaper,
and the dying mother
in the hospital.

But, she will be spending
this Christmas night
in the land of make believe
with her kindly grandfather
Uncle Alm who lives in Dörfli,
a small Swiss village
nestled in the Alps.

Heidi is not her name,
but in this place,
it is what she is called.

There are plenty of animals with
not enough legs between them.

You see, this is an animal farm
for hurt and abandoned
creatures large and small.

There are a herd of three legged
Skudde sheep who no longer fear
the sound of the wolf wind
snarling through the mountains.
Two one-eyed Continental Bulldogs
freed from a hot poker
and the loss in the pit. An Alpine
goat who faints no more at
the sight of a billy club pointed at her.

Even a few Alley cats rescued
from the dark, cutting streets
who now curiously explore
the open green all around them,
and who, when it fancy’s them,
crawl up the legs and ride bareback
the five Freidberger horses spared
from the glue factory when they no
longer could service the Swiss Army.

But this is not the story of a zoo,
but that of a girl harnessing
the woe around her to
to her gentle imagination.

This is not even a story.
A story has conflict and
thus some sorrow and loss.
It is just a series of images
that comforts a terrified girl
on a long winter’s night.

It has enough animals
to be a fable but
a fable has a moral
and there are no
lessons to learn here.
And thou there are humans,
there is no folly and sin,
at least not enough
to make a parable.

It’s not a dream.
She is not asleep.
It’s barely an idea
where rainbow
unicorns occasionally
wander through.

She laughs.
She knows that silly.
She knows unicorns
are not real but
they make her
happy and so she
leaves them in.
She likes keeping
things that
make her happy.

And so she keeps the snow,
even though it is cold,
because it doesn’t
hurt her fingers when
her mittens are on.
And it tastes like laughter.

And she also keeps that hovel
of logs with the snow plied
around and in neat soft layers
on the silvered metal roof.

Grandfather with his
long white beard is there tending
the fire. The smell of hot
chocolate greets her from the
iron stove. “Oh, so yummy to
fill her tummy,” she thinks.

The only animals not abandoned
or hurt, a paddling of Blue ducklings,
had followed her home from the edges
of the frozen lake, knowing the imprint
of a pink petticoat to snuggle on,
awaits them near the yellow warmth.
Nearby, there will be a pan
of warm goat milk to drink from,
and to fill their gullets, day-old
Zopf bread crumbs fed to them
from her tiny gentle hands.

There is no television
just two pictures of
the Virgin Mary and Jesus
hanging from nearby
wood paneled walls.

And even though
today is Christmas
there is no tree
or even presents.

Outside, she knows
there are enough
Stone Pines with
cone ornamentation,
enough unbroken birdsong
hopping in the evergreen
branches for a thousand
Christmases to come.

Inside, she also knows that
The pines have gifted
their souls to be
the everlasting
bench she sat on,
the table she ate from,
the headrest, footboard
and the bed frame
she slept on,
the very walls
all around her,
the door that
opened easily
to the world outside
just as it effortlessly
swung open to reveal
the warmth inside.

“And oh, how they
joyously shared themselves
with the wild grass,
the larches, the
wild blueberries,
all around,” she thought.

“In the spring, after Easter,
after the lake had thawed,
maybe Grandfather
would drag out that old
pine canoe from the shed
and row me to the other side.”

“Why give presents
when the whole world
is such a joyous gift,”
was her final thought
as she drifted off to sleep
sixty years later, this
imaginary world so
joyously comforting her.



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