The Joyful Boy

Here’s a poem that grew out of the winter I spent as volunteer crossing guard at Lagunitas School. Every day was a celebration — of kids, of grinning, waving parents, of tooting friends — and of having a couple of contemplative hours to bear witness to the changing natural world of San Geronimo Valley. I’ve never had a better job.

The Joyful Boy

I’m the Crossing Guard, with a pudgy day-glo vest
and a loud red sign that shouts at cars to STOP,

and he’s a ten-year-old with buzz-cut sandy hair
below a flower-spotted Christopher Robin umbrella

who ambles down the road for half an easy mile
to where I’m standing waiting at the crosswalk

in my drift of alder leaves and slow November rain,
filled with everybody’s somber winter certainties,

but he’s looking at the trees, and the streaming hills,
and the rain-slick stretch of asphalt, and the school,

and he’s smiling with that easy inward-outward
smile that our children never smile anymore,

and I’m so surprised I say to him, “You’re joyful!”
and he thinks, and says, “I am,” and smiles at me,

and then we cross the road. He starts up the hill,
still ambling that amble children have forgotten,

and then he stops and says to me, says just to me,
“And I’ll be here tomorrow, too.” And I know he will.

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4 Comments

  1. Irene Brady said,

    February 7, 2010 at 3:21 am

    ahhhh! so lovely.

  2. Valerie Taylor said,

    February 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Oh my — wow!

  3. Wren Noble said,

    February 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    This is actually one of my favorite of your poems 🙂

    • billnoble said,

      February 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      Mine too! Thank you, daughter.

      The magic of crafting poems about day-to-day life is that focusing so minutely, again and again through the weeks or months of revisiting and revising that handful of words, and searching so deeply for “meaning,” the process preserves for you the complete, original emotional experience, mind and body. I still see that kid mooching down the road and feel what I felt that rainy day. So no matter how well the poem works for others, it’s always a masterpiece for the poet. 🙂


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