Original poem reprinted online here: "My Childhood" by Matthew Zapruder
Originally read: September 24, 2013
More information about the Poet: Matthew Zapruder
So Matthew Zapruder discusses how he came up with the poem, and the last two sentences sums up his creation process, "I guess I knew what I was writing about without knowing it, and the title just says it. The title plus poem felt personally inevitable, and out of my hands."
"Out of my hands" is a good allegory for this poem. The poem is the speaker in the situation rather than being part of it, so the title, "My Childhood" which could be a very internal sentimental topic turns into a vivid observation.
"the orange ball arcs perfectly into the orange hop / making a sound like a drawer closing." So why not "basketball"? Well the addition of the color brings in a sense of blur which is against the simile of "drawer closing." There's something not exact about the clearness of the images.
"you will never get to hold that" and the next line affirms the sentiment of the inability to "hold" (with it's duplicate connotations) the actual -- visual and sound, even though they are "clear."
"I am here and nothing terrible will ever happen" This is mostly a tone line for me in which the speaker just brings up what he remembers about "my childhood" also note the lack of punctuation to punctuate the stream-of-consciousness -- fluid thoughts, not necessarily connected but under the same topic.
"across the street the giant white house full of kids / turns the pages of an endless book" The simile in the beginning blurs the precise, the metaphor here does the opposite. The place is somewhat unclear, but the intent can be drawn out here -- life stories, life poems, life <insert text here> -- weirdly, I feel the poem is most sentimental here, but, at the same time, there's no emotional attachment from the speaker, just observation.
"The mother comes home and finds the child animal sleeping". Past me wrote, "Child? Animal? Both?" The observations have a tint of judgement based on wording, but nothing is concrete as "I left my notebook beside the bed"
"the father came home and sat and quietly talked / one square of light on the wall waiting patiently" here's another question. Each line stand alone? For me these two lines fit together because the sonic and the visual image ties in with the beginning image -- only in reverse. "the father" is the second half of the simile "drawer closing" and the "one square of light" is like the "orange" image. The senses are inverted, but still mean the same -- blurred.
"I will learn my multiplication tables / while the women in the old photograph looks in a different direction". Distance. Just like "the" father instead of "my" in childhood, here the separation is not only through time, but through direction and vision. Yes, it's a photograph, but the focus is actually "different direction".