by Chris G. Vaillancourt
It used to be called "Sunken Gardens",
this section of the park. Now it is called
"The Queen Elizabeth 2nd Gardens"
because Her Majesty visited them.
She wore a pale blue dress that day.
I remember because my sisters and I
were in the crowd. Like the others,
we stared at the Royal "She" in awed
tones of respect and curiosity.
In high school, we used the park to
escape the hum-drum of our classes.
Hiding behind the trees and flowers
so that the jailers from the nearby
school windows would not capture us
in our freedom. We were bold in
our youth. Finely chiselled minds in
adolescent toned bodies.
We'd sit under a tree, smoking and
planning the adventure our lives would be.
None of us would conform, or so we
promised each other and ourselves.
We'd be bold flashes of novelty forever
striking a match to light the flames of
resistance to middle class lives.
We were children of the sixties,
teenagers of the 1970's. Our hopes
and dreams were not the same as
our parents. No, we did not want
to have the white picket fence! Instead
we planned on how we'd take the fences
apart and use the wood to build
alternative ways of existing. Our plans
were brave and solid, our dreams
we would make become our reality.
Now, as I walk through the park
as a grown man, well into my descent
towards my grave, I recall those vain
words we spoke. Those brittle, youthful
proclamations of a new beginning that we
were assured of becoming. None of us
really followed those dreams. The harsh
bells of the "real world" would not stop
ringing. Most of us became our parents
all over again. Talk of freedom and
self-expression gave way to worries over
the mortgage and the bills. Working overtime
so the kids can have a new pair of jeans.
They still call it the "Queen Elizabeth 2nd
Gardens". The flowers are still carefully
planted every spring by the Department of
Parks and Recreation. Sometimes I come and
watch the young bodies at work digging the
soil and planting the flowers in neat, tidy rows.
Her Majesty has not visited Windsor in
quite a long time. Her picture on the money
makes her look older. Of course, she is older
but then so am I. Indeed, so are all the faces
I remember with fondness in my mind.
If I sit quietly on one of the benches,
and I slow down my breathing just a tad, I
can almost hear again our voices planning
the future none of us would have.
I have my own ghosts. They are my constant
companions. Shapes of past mistakes thinly
veiled by my indifference to them. I speak
in studied and calculated messages that I
whip out in aimless patterns of illusions which
become my definition of reality. These shade
me when I encounter clouded doorways that
are covered with vines of blistering intensity.
I do not dig very deeply anymore. When I
was a young boy I covered my fears with
games that created my own universe. I was
master of the world and King of the hill all
at the same time. My destiny seemed to
be flowing in its usual fashion until the gripping
tension of manhood sapped my ambition. I
struggle with myself in terms of lost adventures
which I face with murky drippings of rain drops
that flutter majestically around me. Nothing
reaches me anymore for I have locked the
keys into a safe where I cannot reach them.
I do not travel lightly anymore. When I fall it
is in tragic silence and I encounter only laughter
that flaps from inside my thoughts. I open my
hands and let the dirty images fall to the ground.
I will not pick them up for if I do they may
return and ensnare me in their insistence. I prefer
to echo glasses half full of water even as I
drain the container dry. Indifference is not just
a word anymore, it is a statement of existence.
I do not dig very deeply anymore. Close the
door and let me be. Don't follow the passage
of my eyes. The closed sign is firmly in place
and the darkness welcomes me to its embraces.
I am solitude within and without, happily vague.
All poems © 2010 Chris G. Vaillancourt
Over 200 of Chris G. Vaillancourt's poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals in the U.S. and Canada, in Japan and Australia, and the U.K, including Real Angry Poets, Quills, Unfeigned Coffee Fiend, Detour Memphis, Why Vandalism?!, Plum Ruby Review, Vox Poetica, Outcry, The Hudson Review, Whisper, Poetry Space, Dangling Verbs, Writers Forum, Poesie, Cafe Del Soul,
South Jersey Underground-Issue 6, Protest Poems, Poetry Stop, P&W, elffin&elffa, and many others.
He has had a series of chapbooks published in the 1980's by 4 Winds Press, such titles as "Doors and Windows", "Dancing in the Eighties" and "Slow Burn".
He has had two poetry books published, the first "Teardrop of Coloured Soul" in 2005 and a latest one, to be released in January 2010, entitled "I Walk Naked into a Cloud".
Chris is also the founder and Editor of P&W , an online literary emagazine.