This is an old one, written one day when I was lamenting more than usual the loss of childhood and the state of mind I had then. I don’t have many photos from those days so I’ll borrow a few from my favorite movie, Stand By Me, which is more or less the same thing.
was sharing secrets in tree-houses
on warm, summer nights
as a golden sun set over a perfect world.
was Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher,
the flush of spring on their cheeks,
walking in the sunlight
along the banks of the Mississippi.
was filled with friends
who looked right at me
with clear eyes, hiding nothing.
Friends whose hopes were my hopes,
whose enemies were my enemies,
whose dreams intermingled with my own.
But, now, I am too full,
too full of the world.
I have seen too much.
The minds of those that, once,
I believed to be noble, incorruptible,
defiled by greed and vanity.
Spirits as wide and open as the dawn
mutilated by disappointment.
Poets of the finest natures
who could reach into hidden paradises
and pluck out rare blossoms
twisted by fear and desperation.
I am too full.
I have absorbed this world,
so bloated with pain and pretense.
It is in my pores too deep to wash away.
I can no longer recall
what it was to be clean, hopeful.
I have been polluted, inside and out.
I have seen too much.
I have breathed in, too long, this air
so thick with despair.
You were right, Robert,
though I didn’t believe it,
couldn’t believe it
from my lofty, teenage perch
twenty years ago.
But you were right,
“Nothing gold can stay.”
They say time heals all wounds.
Some it has but mostly
it has made my spirit lonely,
crying out for friends it once knew
before time took them away.
Friends whose word was everything;
friends who came running when trouble started;
friends who judged me for who I was,
not what I had accomplished.
But they are all gone now,
lost in the parade.
I forgive them
for I know what life demands of us.
I’ve changed, too.
But logic comforts only the cold intellect
and makes no less the longing,
no less the sorrow.
Do you remember me?
I remember you.
We were blood brothers once.
We pricked our thumbs, pressed them together,
and said we were bound for all time
but I don’t know where you are today.
Susan, my childhood love,
we drew a chalk rainbow on the sidewalk
and made promises, simple but deeply felt,
promises we knew we would keep
no matter how old we became.
Are the promises of childhood
still floating in the high air
above the sidewalk,
waiting to be fulfilled?
Or were they washed away
by time and the elements
along with the chalk rainbow?
None I have today fit the definition I had back then.
And I miss them.
I miss them
and I wish they could come back
though I know it is impossible.
Slugs have consumed the gardens of their spirits
and I wouldn’t recognize them anymore.
Perhaps they wouldn’t recognize me, either.
A little more is forgotten each day
like the remnants of childhood
sold off at garage sales
or passed along to other children
who can put them to better use.
It’s true – we must put away childish things
or this world will swallow us whole.
But I can still remember
when I was young,
how the sun, streaming
through the edges of my curtain
made me want to run out into it,
to my friends,
to new adventures.
I remember how easy it was to shake off sleep
with them calling outside.
I want to feel the sunshine
pull me out into the world again
the way it used to.
Through my window and out into the world.
The world I once believed it to be.
~ Mark Rickerby