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"A Promise I Made and a Promise I Kept" by Kerry Devins

Gary Miller

(Photo copyright 2002 Gary Miller)

(Photo copyright 2002 Gary Miller)

I promise

To paint the tree.

And with each branch, an expression of hope, determination. With a meaning in every molecule--success, happiness, freedom, a point…

This is a promise, an oath, a vow made to that scared little girl, who barely says a word and thinks too much. She fantacizes, obsesses of a life resembling lysergic acid diethylamide. She’s standing in the cold, shaking in her boots, dreaming of so much more than hiding under the covers, with a flashlight and a Nancy Drew book and sneaking cigarettes in the garage. Stealing ginseng tablets, doing cartwheels in the hallway. Go little girl, buy real estate in Whoville, design a dress for Briar Rose, bury a time capsule on Penny Lane and land your feet on East 68th Street. You would rather read every line from the script of the Shadowboxer, but you won’t. Hold on tight.

For I won’t follow through with my promises for twenty more years.

A promise I made, and I promise I’ll keep.

I will finish painting someday.