Magic Rhymes and Childhood Friendships
Magic Trees: An Alliteration Poem for Children
Tingle, tingle, turn and twist!
Tall on your tippy toes, touch up top!
Twisting, turning to a towering T!
Tall, tall trees!
Magic Friends: A Rhyme Story About Children
Cathy Cars was my first real friend. NOT one of my siblings. She had her OWN Mom and her OWN life and she picked ME to be her friend. She lived in the coach house behind the old Edwards’ mansion, and there was a carriage house next to it that made for a perfect playhouse. She didn’t have a dad, but she did have a cat. She was exotic.
The summer before we went to Kindergarten (an every-other-day affair) as I skipped the cracks in the sidewalk (in deference to my mother’s back) she popped out from between the old fire station and the meat market, pointed a sticky finger at me and asked, “Do you want to be my friend?” She was new in town and I’d never seen or heard anything like her before, but something about her sun burned cheeks both repelled and attracted me. I said Yes before I even thought about it. From that moment on, we did everything together. We walked to and from school together, we ate lunch together, we sat at the same work table, and we recessed together.
In the schoolyard, there was a Magic Forest in a small grove of tall cedar trees. Their roots had burst through the earth and created myriad root-lumps and root-bumps, root-shelves and root-pockets to play on. Cathy and I found two perfectly shaped root-chairs to sit on for our recess chats. We weren’t supposed to bring any toys outside at recess, but Cathy managed to do it. She pulled her doll, Dolores, out from under her skirt. We twisted tiny bits of the greenery that had fallen to the ground into crowns and danced in the shade of the trees. Dolores was the fairy queen and we did her bidding without question, making mud cakes and gathering the little reddish-brown cones into a root-bowl. After a doll meal of dirt and twigs, we got down to business.
“Who is the fairest of them all?” asked Cathy.
“Dolores is,” I pointed to her painted plastic face.
“Who is the Queen of the Trees?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
“Dolores is,” I replied, placing her greenery-twig crown on her snarly, nylon curls.
“Dolores wants us to become trees,” nodded Cathy, since only she could read Dolores’ mind.
We chanted the magic words, treeeeeeees, treeeeeees, treeeeeees … and we grew and grew, stretching our arms up high and wide, reaching for sunshine and clouds. We swayed in the wind, and dropped little cone leftovers from Dolores’ cone berry salad. We felt tall and beautiful.
The bell rang.
After recess, we had a lesson on rhyme. Our young kindergarten teacher—a student teacher -- not yet aware of exactly HOW literally her charges would take every single thing, had explained to us that, “words that RHYME are words that go together -- like rat and cat, and sat and mat.” Aha! I thought, images of pouncing felines and skittering rats in my mind: cats chase rats. Aha! I thought, picturing Cathy’s cat, Puddin’, curled on the rag rug in front of the Frigidaire.
I got it. We got it. We understood.
Words that go together: cat/rat, mat/sat, bread/jelly, Mom/Dad, friend/happy … Cathy/Amy.
“Cathy/Amy rhymes,” she said to me.
I nodded, solemnly.
We do. We rhyme.
Cathy’s mom got married the next summer and they moved away. I missed her a lot. I had nobody to play with except the neighbor boys and they were icky.
Partway through second grade, though, I saw a girl across the street, digging around in the moss at the foundation of the Methodist church. I’d never seen her before.
“Whatcha’ doin’?” I asked her, cautiously.
“I’m digging up some moss to make a bed for my doll,” she said, nodding to a porcelain doll in a wicker perambulator.
“She’s pretty. What’s her name?” I asked, hoping.
“Belinda,” she said, “I’m Jamie. Do you want to play?”
I nodded. “I’m Amy. Could we make Belinda be Queen of the Trees?”
“Sure! We can put a moss throne over there,” she pointed to the maple trees.
My heart soared. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, very soon, our names would be words that would go together. Maybe our names would rhyme.
Amy Ressler © 2017