Leaning lazily in the shade of the building, the bulging trashcan,
Its sides pulled taut from the strain of carrying so heavy a load,
Is filled with the voices and stories of the unread.
The children in these stories itch to speak their words to those who will listen,
But we have discarded them, left them to decay in darkness.
From the depths of the can,
Pecola's quiet, tired cry resounds out of the frayed,
Yellowed pages of The Bluest Eye,
Haroun and his shimmering sea of stories have been brusquely stuffed in between
A failed history test
And a copy of the Panther Press.
Piles of paper beneath them, a curious boy, clothed in fine robes, facing the stars,
Says, Les Grandes Personnes sont bien tranges! Adults are very strange!
But the Little Prince's exclamation is gargled by the ocean of paper above him.
Their voices are concealed beneath outdated Seventeen magazine models
And expired Borders coupons,
Beneath plastic Snapple Bottles and sticky blue gum.
Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
The memories of their childhoods echo through the fading ink of their book pages.
The Little Prince's eternal idealism
Reminds us of the lemonade we tried to earn a living selling.
Pecola's drooping, unloved eyes remind us of the pain
Of being left out, forgotten.
Haroun's venture to save the sea of stories reminds us of the wings we grew and pirate
Ships we sailed in our dreams.
But, alas, a lumbering truck rolls up to the curb
And the garbage collector wields the can high into the air.
It tips, the weight shifts
And paper flutters to the rusted, metal bottom of the truck
The chattering of children grows quiet
And their childhoods are forgotten.
Precious memories and lessons learned
Bloodied, scraped and scarred knees
Gold stars from teachers earned.
The painful failures and celebrated successes of growing up
Swirl and churn
On the messy desks of our minds.
As we try to organize ourselves into the adults we want to be,
We must be careful not to throw out the children we once were.