Unpacking Childhood


I would dabble with dolls, sure.
Dress them in the morning
as if I had woken my child
and gotten her ready for the day.
Feed them breakfast and put them
down for their nap, and then prompt
-ly forget about them for three or
four days. Barbie baffled me. No
one I knew looked like that.

Lincoln Logs, Legos, Tinker Toys.
All in good fun. We built worlds,
but no one lived there long.

I skipped rope and rollerskated
with a comb sticking (cool) out of
the back pocket of my jean shorts.
And we traded marbles and character
cards and Cracker Jack prizes, played
Pick Up Sticks until our eyes went soft.

But my constant companions, my long
-time friends, were words. I hoarded
them, devoured them under blankets
by flashlight. Filled my head with their
wonder. Lived in their worlds. Little House
on the Prairie. Nancy Drew. Hardy Boys.
Beverly Cleary. Judy Bloom. Paula Danziger.
Dr. Seuss. Shel Silverstein. I explored every
corner of Narnia, Middle Earth, Klickitat Street.
Lost myself in the pages of Dynamite Magazine.

And I wrote them. Dear Diary, today was an A-.
Dear Dream Journal, I hope to be a writer.
-books. Journals. Napkins. No surface was safe.

Today, I’ve got a worn crimson bear
who’s been with me from crib
to closet, awaiting my someday grandchild.
I’ve got a tiny wooden horse
I either bought on a five-and-dime
shopping trip with my grandmother,
or at the museum shop
at The McKinley Monument
in Canton, Ohio on a field trip.
(I can’t remember which.)

I’ve got various knickknacks and doodads whose
significance is long forgotten. These wait, quiet,
in boxes.

And I’ve got dozens and dozens
of voices on shelves, waiting to
be broken open, once again.

prompted by OctPoWriMo, day 25

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6 Responses to Unpacking Childhood

  1. Olga says:

    Love your poetic words. Brought back memories: …traded marbles…Cracker Jack prizes. “Voices on shelves” is such a wonderful description.

  2. That stirred up memories of what reading meant to me when I was a child. Beautifully written!

  3. This one brought tears in my eyes. Your poem evoked so many memories of my childhood too. Especially the books your mentioned.They have been a constant companions in every stage of my life too. Thank you very much for this heartwarming poem,

  4. ghostmmnc says:

    Wonderful memories…and yes, the words…always the words 🙂

  5. paper sea says:

    Fantastic. Especially the last stanza. I do my best to forget everything I can. Death to nostalgia. Long live the invention of fiction.

  6. I have my mother’s stuffed animal. She died 4 years ago. I don’t like to let my little one play with it because it is so fragile now.
    This one is really nostalgic.

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