From A Long Way from Verona by Jane Gardam


‘On the whole, I think poems don’t crawl out of dreams. They are knocked out of rocks.

Children write poetry without pain or dreams of course’ she said. ‘Sometimes poem after poem pours out– lovely poems. Before you’re say ten, that is. You will remember.’ p175

There’s something about childhood

that just seems so carefree and easy.

Running, skipping, jumping, laughing,

swinging, playing, swimming and screaming with glee.

All those ing words that fall away as you get older:

at which point there is less moving,

leaving more time to sit and think.

The beauty of being a child

is that they are so present and in the moment.

Expressing themselves

in a myriad of ways

that make my grownup self long for the past.

But it doesn’t last.

Children grow and change

and leave their poetry writing behind,

giving truth to Picasso’s words–

‘Every child is an artist.

The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’

At some point certain pursuits become childish.

Passions become discarded

in favor of other interests or necessities,

and life gets in the way.

Most teens can’t be bothered with drawing or writing just for fun.

They are busy just simply “be”ing.

Worried about grades and school;

friends, peers, and life after school.

The thought of joining the real world

can be daunting, exciting or both.

For some it seems like a black abyss,

a cavernous hole that will swallow them up.

I guess at that age it was hard

to fathom a life beyond the one I was leading.

College, marriage, jobs…

they all seemed light years from my existence.

And yet here I am,

getting ready to launch

my son off into the world.

It doesn’t seem possible.

But today we got word

that someone we know

had taken his own life.

Devastated doesn’t begin to describe

our reaction.

That boy will never grow older,

never experience life beyond school…

We will never see

the man we knew he was meant to be.

His sister will grow and change

and maybe marry

and have children of her own.

She will create a life

around a brother-sized hole.

I’ve come to realize

that damming up the words

damns us to a life

of misery.

We have to let them flow–

out of us, past us,

to a place beyond our reach.

Even if it is difficult,

even if our ideas don’t come crawling out of our dreams.

We must excavate them from our souls

and offer them up to those in need.

And so we write to comfort others.

And so we write to combat loneliness.

And so we write to create new worlds.

And so we must write.

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