Degrees of Separation

Brought from the inner womb into the outer,
they are held close like jewels, confined at first
but soon, exploring limbs will push through doorways,
reveal wider but still sheltered worlds

of stone flags flanked by towers of sunflowers,
curious green fingers reaching up like theirs.
Tall posts, grim guardians, hold iron gates
tight shut, protecting precious life within.

But now the gates are creaking open
onto asphalt path and concrete crescent,
ropes will swing and footballs bounce and roll
down, down past other cloistered gardens,

to where the still cocooned and cosy street
will curl and stretch to meet the grown-up road
whose cars don’t stop for little boys and girls
and buses take them on to prefab sheds

and redbrick halls that echo with bright voices.
Slowly the world will be impressed upon them;
they, in their innocence, be shaped to fit:
gently at first, with little games and stories

but as the road creeps on remorseless
through gestating suburb and stagnating town
the task will grow more stern and sober
the highway’s lure be more seductive still.

In time, it will receive them, lights turn green,
bold signs say “freedom” as, no longer bound
or bounded, eyes forever facing forward
they take on the making of themselves.

First published in Acumen