Misconceptions of Self

This weekend I was rooting through old photos to find something to replace the bowl of mango pickle as the header of this blog and I came across a poem that I had (apparently) written when I was 26 and living in Vancouver. Now, you need to understand that I didn’t begin to write until I was 39 — late in life, which dogs me of course. The reason is this: I was a stuttering insecure person, words evaded me usually, I had no voice. Consequently I was frustrated and depressed most of the time and throwing myself into the dregs of a kitchen as the work-a-holic chef was my main thread to humanity and satisfaction.

But here was this poem, neatly written out in number two pencil. Double-spaced. On pierrot clown, New Orleans stationary. Ah, yes, how I missed New Orleans in those days, toiling at the Vancouver World’s Fair, living with a German-Canadian man whom I would soon marry and not know why. I Googled the poem, in case I had copied it from somewhere. Though I didn’t think so, for the memory of the man in the park eventually returned, and through these words in this poem, which I read over and over, I connected with the younger, emotionally bruised me. Obviously I did have the words in me. They just couldn’t be spoken. Here’s the poem:

Spare Change

“Missy, can ya spare a change?”
He mumbles
forgetting is ancestors,
he stumbles on daydreams.

A quarter will do.

That nebulous green bottle
drowns traffic rumble
numbs the park bench backache.
It rings the bell at recess
and the playground is full.

Hiding behind misplaced dreams
from childhood memories,
he plays tag
with the present.

In the patios of his mind
he does not exist.
Well hidden in his emerald reality
he is safe.

A tap on his shoulder. . .
he then hears a rumble.
That ache,
that vague remembrance

You’re it!

From his own cage,
the treetops he sees
are reminiscent
of the now empty playground
and the only escape
is to play again.
“Missy can ya spare a change?”


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