first in a series...
They weren't supposed to ask for things.
Her mother had given them all --
all twelve of them --
the talk about the oranges.
They weren't supposed to ask.
But when she saw the red-and-blue flash
Against the dark wood of the wagon
The words spilled, skipped, tumbled and jumped
Out to the ground before she could help it.
For an instant she could see herself holding it
Her feet in the air in the schoolyard
Her braids slapping against her back
As everybody counted.
Painted swirls twirling in her circling hands.
And when her mother suddenly stepped forward --
suddenly called "Wait!" --
suddenly the reds and blues were being exchanged for a coin
after a hurried consultation with her oldest sister --
suddenly she thought... but suddenly it was not,
and the parcel was wrapped and put under Martha's coat
to take to the girl in the manor house,
the girl who had already seen elephants and tigers
the girl with the roomful of toys.
And after their dinner of cabbage soup and bread
'Lizabeth Ellen went to the yard to skip rope
With a knot clutched in each fist.
Bonus points for the first person to identify the source material!