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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Number 288: Douglas Goetsch "The Kingdom"

The Kingdom

A little girl in her Halloween princess costume,
purple and white, thin satin or polyester,
a slit in the sleeve, a sweatshirt underneath
her mother made her wear over her screams.
Still, she couldn't be more excited, waving
her cardboard wand. Children need so little;
pennies for the fountain, bread for the sparrows.
You tell them to sit on the floor and they do.
Even rich kids know there's nothing better
than a tree house, creaking in the wind.
Talking into tin cans, gazing down at the rain,
they understand what a kingdom is, though they
cant know they'll spend their lives trying
to get back to that high throne, that cardboard
wand with which they conjured a future
so different from the one that arrived.

-- Douglas Goetsch

Hap Notes: What did you think you would be when you were a child? How big was the world to you then? Every person you meet was once a child, and in many ways, still is. When you talk to a person it's not a bad idea to remember that you are talking to a child who had fears, hopes and dreams and all those things are still inside them somewhere.

One's dreams and thoughts from childhood are often preserved, like an old dried corsage now battered and hardly recognizable, but still there. Some folks find that circumstances in life have battered all the child-like hope out of them. These people are often filled with resentment, anger and bitter sadness. They don't want to see anybody else's dreams come true since theirs did not. These are the people who will say about some enthusiastic person,"They'll get THAT beaten out of them by life, just wait and see." As if life were some kind of punishment. If it was, why would we think otherwise as a child? What is it about life that makes it seem to some like drudgery as they age?

The children in today's poem don't know this will happen yet but all of us on the other side of childhood watch them with a certain joy in their happiness and a sorrow about the loss of our own childish hopes and dreams.

What is the poet saying about adulthood in this poem? How is talking into tin cans different from using a cell phone, not physically but otherwise.? What kind of a house is in a tree? What is the poet saying about the "cardboard" magic of childhood? What is he saying about our cardboard lives? Why is this poem called "The Kingdom"?

Here is where we have talked about Goetsch before:

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