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“Pretend”

And for a while the rain fell,
And I pretended (do you still
Remember how to pretend?)
That I was aboard a tall ship,
Three heavy masts thrusting up
From the sea, damp men
Scrambling along damp rope
To secure her sails as the wind
And rain threatened to hurl them
Into an ever-hungry sea.
And for a while I pretended
(And I hope you’ve not forgotten
The rules for pretending) that I
Was a scribe, making careful records
Of all that the men saw and
Did, and of the strange new
Lands we reached, each dawn bringing
With it new adventure. And I
Pretended (but just in case, the
First rule is to forget about reality
For a while. Give reality the day
Off) that this rain was the first
In a series of increasingly fearsome
Storms that might claim the lives
Of many of the damp men
Who guided the ship from port
To port. And I pretended
(And the second rule is to dive
Headfirst into your own mind
And surface with whatever golden
Thought you may have have found
In the depths) that our ship
Had reached a sun-soaked shore.
And for a while the damp men
Escaped from the sea, and the
Rain stopped, and the sun shone,
And for a while the damp men
Were warm and dry and for a
While they were able to pretend
That their lives were something
More than they were. And for
A while I pretended (and the
Last rule is that no matter what
You pretend, that you have fun)
That I was there with them,
Dancing and singing in a
Tropical paradise, smiling
Because, for a brief while, I was
Free. And then the rain outside
My window stopped, and I
No longer desired to pretend.
The ship sailed away again,
And I was left behind.

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