Small Town Girls
for Kathy J. and Holly
Walking barefoot into summer nights,
under a watchful moon,
we roamed our small town roads.
Feral girls not ready for life with
bras and boys to hold us tight.
They called us tomboys--
but who were they to know
what a girl could ever be when
all she wanted was to run free
from homes we never spoke of
as we carried the broken shards
within our happy young facades.
Little lies let us wander alone—together
like the homeless nomads we aspired to be.
Past the old south cemetery encircled by
stone walls that slumped and leaned as if
overpowered by the weight of all its dead.
Up and through the hillside orchard,
its apple filled rows still heavy with fog
from farmer’s poison spray that hung
like ghosts awaiting our arrival.
Then around the bend into town where
the brick school building echoed hollow
as we climbed in through the loosened vent
just to leave our sets of dusty footprints.
Onward, down Main Street past the church,
a parade of three young virgins marching
before the holy statute of Mother Mary
waiting patiently and barefoot in the dark.
Cold and tired, we strolled back
to camp as dawn began her slow
pink ascent into another day
where young girls walk
the lighted path of other’s expectations.
Elizabeth McCarthy lives with her husband in an old farmhouse in northern Vermont, where they raised two children. Retired from teaching in 2019, she turned to poetry in 2020 when the pandemic closed the world down and time became a windfall. Her manuscript, “Digging Potatoes,” was shortlisted for the Hunger Mountain: VCFA May Day Mountain Chapbook Series in 2021, and her chapbook Winter Vole was published by Finishing Line Press in November 2022.