You Can’t Go Back to Childhood


by Lilian Bui
written August 2, 2009, on the plane from Atlanta, GA en route to D.C.
I started writing after reading a line from Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road

No, you can’t go back to childhood
The road doesn’t go that way
It’s overgrown with brush and woods
The gates are locked, decayed.

You can’t go back to childhood
There, your head would swell
Drunk with liquid memory
Obscenities dispelled

You can’t go back to childhood
Where Father lowers you to bed
And the noxious smell of libraries
Accounts for “what if’s” in your head

You can’t go back to childhood
Where bare feet seek the lawn
And autumn twilight listlessly
Turns constellations on

You can’t go back to childhood
Where candy stains the tongue
And shopping carts make sturdy ships
For misadventures sprung

You can’t go back to childhood
I am myself convinced
There is no place quite like it
Never before nor since

You can’t go back to childhood
The river has run dry
You can’t go back to childhood
However you may try.

(*Last line’s punctuation left ambiguous on purpose.)

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