Thursday, December 5, 2013

I finally wrote a poem that sort of goes with one of my favorite old quilts--one I did almost thirty years ago.

           The Rules of Engagement

A child must be taught the way this world works
A child must be swaddled to know its boundaries--
          wrapped snug in the fears of the clan,
                    in their notions of limit, of scarcity--
The very finiteness of substance, of time, of love.
The constricts of the flesh.

A child must be weaned onto the red meat of self-ness--
          self-interest, self-preservation, self-control.
A child must be weaned onto the fizzy sweetness of desire.
A child must understand these rules of engagement
          or the world and its hoard--
                    all those others--
                              will destroy him.

This container of mortality,
This box set over us,
This cage we inhabit,
                    built to keep us,
Must be carefully delineated for a child
          by well-meaning, even loving, best guessers.
Folks armed with knowing looks,
                    with cautionary tales,
Folks with age and experience on their side.

But little one--
I will whisper the big secret into your ear
                    when no one's looking.
I will slip the spell like a magic coin into your pocket.
I will bake you a cake with the file hidden inside.

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