When we were young, we thought we’d be astronauts,
had comets and starships orbiting our cradles
we were the centre of this diaper-clad universe,
and our parents were suns and moons,
keeping us warm, guiding the tides
with divine consistency.
Until the moon started working late
and had arguments with the sun in the living room
about mortgages and missing glances and
Who The Fuck Is Gloria?
The solar flares carried on well past your bedtime,
and you decided maybe space wasn’t all that friendly,
and sailing the stars could be left to someone else.
When we got older, we thought we’d be explorers
striking out from the motherland across oceans and jungles
driving handmade flags into foreign soil
that had been erroneously claimed
by the kid next door.
(What a jerk, right?)
There was always new continents to conquer,
a fresh playground, an undiscovered shortcut,
the secret tree-fort you cobbled together
that would stand the test of time…
until it didn’t.
The hidden paths were bulldozed to make room
for new subdivisions,
you tree fort rotted away, exposing tetanus teeth
And when the neighbourhood bully made you
eat dirt and worms as punishment for trespassing
you decided exploring the undiscovered corners
could wait until you came back later
with a proper expedition.
When we grew older, we thought we’d be knights
charging down windmills and wizards without
the slightest concern for our safety
cause we were the good guys,
and good guys never got hurt, if there was one thing we’d learned
from comic books and Saturday cartoons,
it was that everyone but us has terrible aim,
and all explosions reach out in slow motion
too slow to catch us. There was nothing to fear, so
we flung ourselves from the battlements howling like lions
until we tripped over our pride and limped back home
with skinned knees, broken arms,
and memories of the one kid who danced
too closely with the freight trains.
When we grew older, oh man, we wanted to be cool….
…whatever that was.
It felt like the greatest bonfire party of all time
except instead of wood, they were burning
all the things you used to love, throwing your wide-eyed self
upon the pyre, adopting a smoothness
reserved for fighter jets and dreary-eyed dolphins
performing backflips for strangers just to
feel some kind of love again, and either
it ate you whole
or it left you cold, shivering on the outskirts,
broken toys by the donation bin.
And when we grew older, older still,
old enough to take the long view
atop a mountain of late nights and rocky days,
maybe we climb down back to that bonfire, the heat
long since off the ash, sift through with weathered fingers,
trying to find a remnant of a storybook we once held dear
fragments of fantasies, the scrap of a blanket
we clutched like a shield,
the compasses that guided us through foreign fields
the spaceship pieces we stole from the garage
it’s not just a nostalgia trip, not just an homage.
To hell with the rent and the job and the cars
We were supposed to be astronauts,
now we can barely put our eyes to the stars
like fingers to the most painful braille,
that jabs “We let go.
All of this was just letting go.”
So if you still have that smouldering scrap of yourself
that you pulled from the fire of your youth
lock it tight in your lungbox
swallow the key
and shout out smoke signals into your sunset skies
They all made a damn good case for letting go.
Doesn’t mean we have to.