Homeless children playing football with cans.”
Beneath crayola skies, we lingered,
Watching little butterflies flit between branches,
Laughing at the starlings as they caused kerfuffles
That only they knew
And only they could end.
This place of colour, light and creation,
Unsullied by adolescent snobbery
And adult ignorance, bewitched us.
When did we lose it?
When did we lose us?
We sit looking at a leaden heaven
Impervious even to X-ray eyes,
Refusing to divulge either answers or lies
With weights heavier than hearts should be
Pulling at our cavernous chests.
This is not us.
This is not the way we should be.
Childhood has bequeathed us everything
And delivered nothing,
Yet to return is considered a backward step:
It is only step to regain that innocent joy.
"Did you know, there's a waterfall where stars pour from the sky."
"Stop those tears and we'll go find it."
“There are many shades of night, child, multiple blacks.”
“Black is black, and it scares me.”
The old woman smiled.
“When the cold comes, we treasure the moments before sleep wrapped in blankets, our eyes closing, bodies warming, don’t we?”
“As I said, there are many shades of night.”
She screwed up her face, doing that wrinkly thing with her nose, tapped her fingernails on her front teeth to a clickety-click and looked to the sky. Those choices teased at her like cream hanging from a cat’s whiskers. Decision made, her declaration was monumental.
When we are young, the transition from a crawling baby to a scampering child does not come without disaster. There is a certain inevitability about the fact we shall and do fall many times. And, that after it being witnessed by our parents once or twice, it will no longer hold the same fear. There is even less fear for the child. A baby sets its sights on something, clambers up onto its own two feet and lurches for that objective with a single-mindedness that any adult can admire. Yes, they will fall, but that child will just get right on up and try again.
As adults, we do not remember our own trials to a bipedal existence. For all those times we fell, the memories are obliterated. So I ask: when as an adult we fall even once, why is the struggle to stand again so difficult? Where is that childhood desire to regain our feet? Why are we inclined to give up? Is it to learn to keep going and never give up?
I can’t answer these questions with assuredness, but I will try like hell to act like I’m two until someone tells me to stop.
I push the coin around the tabletop with my fingertip. The man on its surface regards me through one eye in intimidatory fashion. He does it once too often, so I flick him hard to the floor. My mother slaps my head and asks how I like it. I don't.