(Phrases humbly borrowed from Mary Oliver’s Poem, The Journey)
That day I finally knew what I had to do
Washday was every Monday
my doll clothes scrubbed clean
Mom said I couldn’t hang them out to dry
she needed the room on all three lines

That day I finally knew what I had to do
Mom said, No to white picket fence!
No to Lilac bush! What would neighbors think?
No to kitchen chairs—puddles on linoleum.

That day I finally knew, what I had to do
I spilled out back gate, escaped
up deserted alley, tin bucket of clothes
swinging my confident gate

I didn’t stop, I knew what I had to do
Don’t know how long my three-year-old feet
toddled to country road where we took Sunday rides
Don’t know how I crossed
narrow bridge where Dad and I fished
Don’t know how I found the park
without Mom or Dad’s warm hand but

I heard a new voice that day
Which I slowly recognized as my own

my new voice spotted a wire fence
she said, “Just right to drape dresses,
socks, crocheted sweater.”

She kept me company,
We watched afternoon riot of light change
to pink dusk, then night sky yawned open
a few eager stars danced out as
Dad’s wild hug and Mom’s streaming tears
led us home through back gate,
past three lines of dried clothes

I was determined to live the only life I could live

Marianne Lyon has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching in Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2016. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild. She is an Adjunct Professor at Touro University Vallejo California.