Sunday, April 03, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016: Day 2 - Lessons


What Sondheim tells us is true:
Children will listen.
Oh but they’re so young, the mothers say
Phone in one hand, TV remote in the other
Just one more cartoon for some peace and quiet
Juggling hours like a jester –
Not the titillation of sex shows
Legs spread apart, juggling balls
For bright, leering eyes.
No, falling barrels, each with a weight
Words charged like explosives.

Oh but they’re just kids, the fathers say
Slumped in a chair, eyes rapt on the computer screen
Tracking how many lives left
How many potions more
Bills spread on the table
Heated exchanges over debts unpaid
Which school is best, the right way
To bring up these children to be a credit
To their name, to their family
To be able to give face.

Oh yes they’ll listen to your silences
To the words between the lines when they ask
‘Will you play ball with me today?’
And the answer is ‘No not tonight I’ve a meeting’
To the siege of words exchanged in anger
Past midnight when you think they’re asleep
And they learn that no one is invulnerable
That even the securest of homes
Is only an illusion.

Children will listen
Better than you know.
Teenagers with faces like closed fists
Wearing rage like armour
Wrapped about their adolescent frames
Secrets festering in still-young hearts
Hurts disguised as barbs where words fail
Listening as the world lays out their future
And tells them they don’t measure up.
Living their lives out in coffee cups and traffic jams
Settling for what-ifs and oh-that's-nice-but
Because the voice in their heads
Tells them they will never conquer worlds
Not even their own.

Children listen, you see.
But we don’t know how to listen back.

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