Monday, September 16, 2013

Shel Game

Whenever we go for a bike ride in the neighborhood, after we've been to the basketball court or the playground, just as we head up the slight incline of the street, Woodwind, which leads us home, we stop here, for some water and a rest:

It's shady and cool, and usually a breeze at least whispers a little.  In truth, it's a lovely little spot.  But, I have never been exactly sure why we always stop there.  What started us doing this?  I asked Nick because he is the one who always wants to stop.

"You know, Dad, from those books we used to read when we were little."

I've spoken before on that moment where you suddenly understand something that a second before you didn't even know was waiting for you to understand it.  Yes?

Here are the books he meant, those three in the middle, the three we read everyday at lunch before they went to preschool, Good Lord, years ago.  They loved the silliness and playfulness and sometimes seriousness that leaped off the pages and into their fresh, happy minds:

Three by Shel Silverstein.  Falling Up, A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Three truly masterful, seminal collections of poetry from a poet to whom you need no introduction.

Here is a favorite of the boys:

Where the Sidewalk Ends
from the book "Where the Sidewalk Ends" (1974)

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends.

Here is another image of the place we always stop:

"... and there the moon-bird rests from his flight to cool in the peppermint wind."

Now you know everything that hit me in that instant of joyous epiphany.  We stopped there "for the children, they mark, and the children, they know, the place where the sidewalk ends."  He remembered, he celebrated, he knew why we stopped there.

Actually, that is not all there is to this story.  When I was in acting school, perhaps my third year, I was teamed up with a group of actors and a director in what the school called "lab shows."  We put together a traveling presentation for schools that we mostly improvised with some scripted words.

The words of Shel Silverstein...

We worked on a lot of different ways to present the poem above but they all seemed too trite, too untrue, too pedestrian, if you will.  The director finally left it up to me.  I usually just walked into whatever was the brightest spot in the performance space and simply recited the poem.  It was probably some of my most connected moments of all my times on stage.  I knew what he was saying.

So did Nick...

Thanks for taking a little walk with me today.  I appreciate it.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE it!

    Funny, I used to run down the road until the sidewalk ends... and back. Something very poetic about it, and great at the same time. It's 4 miles round trip.