Shadow Children

Somewhere,
along the distance between light and dark,
there are children playing pretend

at gravedigging. Tugged braids and
kicked shinbones startle laughter and
screams like cold glass rattling and
winter windchimes.

In those shadows
Why is not a question of reason
but a crisp casting of defiance.

There they are; liminal, insistent,
learning that fear is to be buried
until they have buried so much
fear they are neck deep in it.
Growing, then, becomes a need

to stay above fear, using it as fertilizer
stretch beyond it, strive
and all the while drive roots deeper
toward the riven rock until the trees

realize they have become moles and
now must pretend they are at play.
Now, digging blind, Now, shriven of all
but a thing called adultery.

v2.0

Somewhere,
along the distance between light and dark,
there are children playing pretend

at gravedigging. Tugged braids and
kicked shinbones startle laughter and
screams like cold glass rattling and
winter windchimes.

In those shadows
Why becomes a crisp casting of defiance;
a statement of instinct, not a
question of reason.

They are imaginary; liminal, insistent,
learning that fear is to be buried
until they have buried so much
fear they are neck deep in it.
Growing then, becomes a need

to stay above fear, to use it as fertilizer
stretch beyond it, strive
and all the while drive roots deeper
to bedrock until the trees

notice they have surrounded themselves
with dirt and must now pretend they are
playing as moles.

Now, digging blind. Now,
shriven of all
but a thing called adultery.


This turned out a hell of a lot darker than I anticipated. I was initially thinking about how children are truthspeakers until they learn enough nuances of language and get encultured enough to guard their tongues. A sort of Kids Say the Darnedest Things idea. That whole concept ended up as fear. The idea that adulthood is basically just a long drawn-out denial or con-game sticks around, thankfully. I think poets try to reclaim the honesty of childhood. Not childishness, but the seemingly inherent ability to call a horse a Pegasus and make it true, and to speak their mind without fear for repercussion. I’m trying to get to that point myself. Where I can write, drawing from the well of my experience, overcoming any worries that I have about friends or family changing their perceptions of me because of what appears.

As always this poem is a rough draft. But what I’m going to do now is keep every iteration of the poem in the post, so the last one will be the most recent version. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.