I passed my friend William Shakespeare-- (I wonder if his legs were really that good,) paid the homage I always do when going by him, stopped by Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott, massive, wonderful statues on either side of what i think is Poet's Walk, or maybe Writer's, and wondered, as usual, what FitzGreene Halleck is doing there. Probably he wonders, too.
When I was first starting out in life, at that point when we allegedly determine what it is we want to be when we grow up-- in my case, way before-- I wanted to be a poet. Pelted with poetry by my father, a pharmacist/poet manque, I had started spouting it myself at a scarily early age, and by seven or eight had aligned myself with Longfellow, probably not the best choice, but what do you know when your father's been reading The Highwayman at you.
So The Children's Hour hung heavily in my head. You remember?
Between the dusk and the daylight
When the night is beginning to glower (a word I thought heavyhanded, e'en then) Comes a pause in the day's occupation
That is known as The Children's Hour.
So sitting in the Boathouse Restaurant, looking out at the frozen lake, sipping on not a bad glass of Pinot Grigio, talking to two racily charming Italian women at the next table-- you can always make friends in New York as long as they are from someplace else-- I took out a little notebook I had brought along that had in it some poems I'd written in this park on earlier occasions, and found this:
Between the day that my life shall end
And the year that I thought to begin it
Came the pause in my Solipcism
That is known as the Children's Minute.
I hear in the bedroom above me
The toddler that calls me "Mom,"
And by the time I climb the stairs
She's dressing for the prom.
The little boy with the pinchable cheeks
Huffs and puffs up a hill of stone
And by the time he reaches the peak
He has two little boys of his own.
Why didn't I spray them with some kind of glue?
So they'd stay at that huggable age
Oh, they say that time flies, but it literally flew
Giving not enough time to engage.
If we could but know at the start of the game
That Life isn't a fair referee
For there are no "Time outs" and there's no one to blame
But yourself, for not stopping to see.
Oh, well. The ladies from Italy have invited me to visit them in Lucca.