I remember cracks in the sidewalk
The simmering air of a Deep South summer afternoon.
The dry sound of crickets from a nearby field
And the steady grind and swoosh of traffic from LaVista Road just out of sight.
The smell of creosote, pungent and cloying
In the heavy seconds of Childhood–
But a single, sparkling flake of time in this quarried life.
I had asked my mother what caused this smell, which I associated
With the telephone poles that sprouted like an ugly linear forest
From the uneven sidewalk, buckled and swaying,
First in one direction and then the other, like a drunkard’s shamble.
She told me about creosote and what it was meant to do–keep insects away.
Strange, how such a thing should stick and stay in memory,
Such an ordinary explanation. But this is much of the basis of how I think and learn.
The scent of creosote, the languid, slurping humidity of childhood summer, all bound
Into a package of dialogue–a question, an answer,
And then the summary, pondering conversation that followed, tying one thought
Into a constellation of other thoughts, facts, gathered bits of flotsam information.
Perhaps it is why I never thrived in the classroom.
Perhaps it is why I see learning as something that must have its roots
Beyond the ugly, restrictive edifice of Public Education–bricks of by-the-book thought
That form walls, intended to block out the sun, the free air of natural curiosity.
Curiosity and the unselfconscious pursuit of understanding are dangerous
To mill-work facts, packets without direct purpose or relation to one another
To be gathered, consumed, but never truly used.
I have always preferred the informally structured forays, the meandering journeys.
The destination is never clear until it is reached–creosote, constellations, and cotyledons.
Days of the Week and their linguistic origins brought on helpless gales of giggles.
How I learn is how I see, grow, become. An uneven sidewalk, a life drunk on wonder.