The Daisy Chain

In the summer before my junior year, I took numerous community college classes and courses at the Palo Alto Unified School District's summer session. I was enrolled in Analysis of the Writer's Craft, and one of our assignments was to write a poem based off of Robert Frost's critically acclaimed "Birches". Mr. Halter, the creative writing instructor, told us to think about a childhood event that significantly impacted our current lives. It took a long time for me to put together this piece, and I can honestly say that it came from the heart. I was able to piece together fragmented memories from my childhood that I usually would not have taken time out of my day in a school year to reminisce over. Smells, tastes, jokes, friendships, and heartbreaks all came back to me in one nostalgic yet bittersweet afternoon. After submitting this piece into the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and winning a regional prize and also performing it at a local poetry jam.

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1. The Daisy Chain

The playground structure glistens underneath the daylight,

The rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple,

Whether the spectrum of color is splattered on the slide or a ladder,

Or the swing set or the see saw or the monkey bar.

Like an ocean that will wash over and light up the child’s tearstained face,

With the primary objective of turning any frown upside-down.

It is a canopy of freedom,

An island of misfit toys.

A jungle of discovery,

A kingdom of exploration.

An enchanted land where anything is possible.

Where a lot can be learned by conquering a fear,

By learning the secret behind how to win every hopscotch match,

Or wriggling down into the darkness of the tunnel slide without a partner.

And mastering the expertise of the swing set by kicking your legs up into the air,

Or resolving a dispute between a friend,

By spitting on your palm and shaking a hand.

The smell of sweetened wildflower is lingering within the breeze,

There is a story behind that candy wrapper discarded on the floor,

And the piece of gum latched onto the bottom of the playground equipment,

And that bloodstained massacre of a band-aid spread over the ground.

A cloudless sky hangs over the peaceful background,

I sprint toward it with my hair and dress flying behind me alongside the wind,

I fashion myself a crown out of the flower I discover in the meadow.

I declare myself the queen of the land as I approach my magical kingdom,

A boy that I have never met before

Reveals himself from the darkness underneath a nearby willow.

He would introduce himself as the king who has returned to claim his castle,

We collaborate and create an alliance,

The sun would bear down on our army of children.

With the beautiful, feminine duchess, adorning her summer frock.

And the powerful, masculine duke, whipping out his origami sword from its sheath.

Alongside the knight in shining armor, saluting over his sparkling bicycle helmet,

He would mount his scooter as if it was a determined steed.

Not to forget the honorable soldiers, who defended the dominion with their life.

As we adventure onto the bridge suspended over the tanbark,
Pretending that it was a dangerous ocean with a monster that lurked in its depth.

We would hunt down a mythological creature in the field,

And defeat a dragon about to conquer our property.

Princesses curtsey in their paint-splattered artist smocks,

Princes would bow in their disheveled overalls and unbuttoned shirts,

As they enter the luxurious ballroom,

Transforming their tattered clothing into expensive dresses and tuxedos,

Dancing the night away as if there was no tomorrow.  

We were whoever we wanted to be,

We were wherever we wanted to be,

We were whenever we wanted to be,

We were however we wanted to be,

With the power of our imagination.

 

We dwell in the most unbelievable world of creation,

A place where anything was possible with the blink of an eye or the drop of a hat,

We could summon a pegasus by pointing to a cloud drifting in the sky,

We call for a centaur by screaming into the forest at the top of our lungs,   

We would discover a unicorn by galloping with the wind.

The villain soon lead his army to besiege our kingdom,

They were all appropriately prepared,

With ammunition properly loaded into their water guns.

Their bicycle helmet strapped securely to their heads,

He gave a command to his army,

The servicemen went to stampede over our castle,

And to slaughter us all with their ferocious weaponry.

Their frightening and intimidating gaze surveys our kingdom like it is a prize.

We ordered our strongest men to fight against them,

But they all fell underneath the control of the enemy.

And after my temporary moment in royalty,

I could only watch as my castle was ruined.

Tears cascaded down my face like a waterfall,

As I buried my visage into my hand.

I felt an arm over my shoulder,

A voice comforting me and informing me that everything would be alright,

We eventually decided to share the magical kingdom.

We danced and laughed and exploded with excitement,

Sprawling across the meadow,

Jumping over the playground structure,

Hopping into the air,

Absolutely free from any concern or stress.

Our memories completely lost in the midst of childhood,

A time about which we can only reminisce in adulthood with nostalgic sentiment,

And will soon be forgotten as the seasons change to winter, spring, summer, and autumn.

That childhood summery freedom will soon crinkle and disconnect,

Just like the leaves on a tree as time continues.

Covered by an abominable blizzard instead of a friendly blanket of snow,

As expectations and responsibilities simultaneously arrive with age.

 

I return to this park as an adolescent,

I allow my finger to smooth over the playground structure

In an attempt to remember what it was like

When my freedom was not constrained by a supreme regulation,

But a timeout in the corner.

When my value was not defined by a numerical scale,

When my entire existence was not dependant on my college essay,

Or the amount of extracurricular activities that I participated in

To have the entire world’s expectation suspended over my shoulder.

A prisoner of the textbook,

The soldier to the teacher,

A slave to the classwork, homework, and schoolwork assignment,

Forever locked amongst the dungeon of binder paper, calculators, protractors, and broken dreams.

Simplistically another tool utilized by society in order to advance technology,

A random identity restricted by a deadline.

 

The world is no longer as beautiful.

Love is not as romantic,

I felt a lot more excitement when I held my crush’s hand for the first time in elementary school,

Than I do when I receive a coldhearted text message from a passive aggressive boyfriend.

Friendship is not as genuine.

I had a lot more fun by prancing around the field during recess,

Than walking alongside each other without speaking much of a word to one another at the mall.

Education is not as interesting,

I felt so much more engaged when the teacher lead our classroom outside to the meadow,

And released the infinite monarch butterflies from their cage,

As they flew outside free as a bird to face their future into the perfect, crystalline sky.

Than I do when I flip page after page in a monotonous textbook for my research project.

Music is not as inspirational.

I was so much more connected when we chanted a nursery rhyme in kindergarten,

Than I am listening to any artificially fabricated lyric blasting through the radio.

I was experiencing a valuable, yet a delicate and fragile age,

When my mind was still interlocking the world around me like a puzzle piece.

The time when my fingers were covered in a layer of evaporated liquid glue and marker ink,

When I sat in a criss cross applesauce formation surrounded by my fellow classmates.

When I would cry over a broken crayon or a paper cut or a scraped joint,

And giggle over a joke that has been told too much.

When I was forced to face reality,

And to perceive the world through a spectacle of an adult,

The schoolhouse playground structure is no longer my castle.

The grass field is not my mystical meadow anymore.

The park is not my magical kingdom.

I live in a society where both optimism and pessimism are frowned upon,

How the creative fabrication of a world is a notion that can only be categorized as a dream.

I cannot be a queen simplistically by placing a daisy chain over my head.

I cannot defend myself by with an army of children equipped by a bicycle helmet and a water gun.

I cannot fight a monster with a paper sword.

Nor can I protect my people with a plastic shield.

My imagination is now only a separated entity from reality.

If only life were as simplistic as that,

But unfortunately it is not.

I return to the situation I am surrounded by now,

As an adolescent that is gradually transforming into an adult,

In this atrocious, deplorable, violent world,

Conglomerated with the horrendous power of avarice and cupidity,

The fact that I can discover even the most insignificant substance of happiness,

Is an act worthy of applause in itself.

Perhaps the imaginative vision I experienced as a child was a mere delusion.





 

 

As I mature and grow into yet another monotonous individual,

I start to see that the world is not as appalling, dreadful, and frightening as I consider it to be.

I learn that how the impact anything has on me is completely correlated with my perspective,

This beautiful yet disgusting, this insane yet tranquil, this compassionate yet repulsive--

This amazing yet horrifying, this sympathetic yet sickening, this wonderful yet phantasmagorical--

This interesting yet mundane, this inspirational yet heartbreaking, this artistic yet frightening--

Excellent, cultural, significant, groundbreaking, earthshattering, laughable world.

That I will soon become all too familiar with as I am introduced into society.

I may not be the queen of my magical kingdom,

Nor am I the princess of the peaceful meadow,

Or the enchantress of the spellbound civilization,

I learn that not everything can come into my hand with the snap of my finger.

My achievements and accomplishments can only come with diligence.

My desires and wishes can only be granted by myself.

But the lessons that I learn on the playground structure are a lot more valuable to me,

Than the academic and educational lectures I receive in the classroom.

Respect,

Honesty,

Responsibility,

Ambition,

Compassion,

Sympathy,

All values that are established within my morals and ethics,

Tied together alongside my fate and destiny.

I decide to travel down this pathway,

Instead of placing the daisy chain upon my head.

 

 

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