Little children never walk anywhere,
they run here, there and back
and then roar off again
in an ongoing game which leaves
them breathless between shouts
as they jump and fall over
the playground of this world and
take-off into their imaginations
on the paper planes they built yesterday.
They barely even notice me
as I walk home everyday
and if they do, they stand stockstill
and look shyly at the ground
embarrassed by the adult invasion
with its steady pace and quiet voice
before they scream again and fly away,
once more into the fray and the
imaginary crusade of the sandpit.
It’s the highlight of my day,
walking through that playground
and intruding for a few steps into
a very different world where
everything happens extra fast
and I have to dodge balls flying
into imaginary goals and little boys
chasing each other with hand-guns
and the most terrifying sound-effects.
It makes me smile to think I was like them,
all these free beings who run around
as fast as their legs will carry them
because there is literally not a moment
to waste when life has so much on offer.
They’re captivated by unfiltered imagination,
taken with the wonderful exuberance of it all,
those unbounded horizons of childhood
where every day is a discovery and
every discovery something to be shared
with as many people as possible
because surely they’ll be interested too.
I found a huge cow bone in the garden once
which my mom had given to the dogs
who had promptly buried it for this
intrepid archaeologist to unearth
a very smelly week later.
I was convinced it was a dinosaur
and could barely contain my excitement
enough to speak as I rushed in to tell my mom
that her precious garden was about to become
a world-famous dig where a six-year-old
had discovered the real Jurassic Park.
A little bit of childhood dies with every
imaginary dinosaur that we unearth,
until we forget that there are any treasures
buried beneath the dirt and drudge of daily life
and that there are always unknown places
we can explore, if only because it’s fun.
Everyone has to grow up, I get it,
but it makes me happy
to walk past the playground
each afternoon, if only in the hope
that the ball might roll over to me
so that I can kick it back and the
small boy who was left behind can,
just for a moment, run with his arms extended
and celebrate another goal imagined.