I should be diligent and firm,
I know I should, and frowning, too;
again you’ve failed to clean your room.
Not only that, the evidence
of midnight theft is in your bed—
cracked peanut shells and m&m’s
are crumbled where you rest your head,
and just above, the windowsill
is crowded with a green giraffe
(who’s peering through your telescope),
some dominoes, and half a glass
of orange juice. You hungry child,
how could I be uncharmed by this,
your secret world, your happy mess?
“I got past childhood somehow. I never understood why people sing such paeans to childhood. Childhood exemplifies restrictions and deprivations. When one grows up one acquires positions from which one can fight injustice. […] A lack of equality is found not only among the rich and the poor; it exists in a more intense form in the power relationship between men and women.”
— Ismat Chughtai, “A Life in Words: Memoirs” (Penguin, 2012)
Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood
and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows
or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,
you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows
something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous
that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.
Liked to use dashes
Instead of full stops.
Nowadays, faced with such
Critics and editors
Send for the cops.
(Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, Faber & Faber, 1986)