Still He Draws

Mind stalled, synapses off kilter
gait pained by age and atrophy,
he swings a chalk bucket
as we walk our weekly walk.

Stopped to watch scurrying ants
he stoops, putting chalk to sidewalk.
Hopscotch numbers beyond his grasp
he draws a simple sun, one cloud.

Standing, he pats my face
grins at me, then bends again.
Clutching pink chalk, draws a string
attached to one pink balloon.

Chalk tossed aside, he lowers himself
shifts bony frame uncomfortably
until he is perfectly placed,
as if holding that pink string.

Eyes tight shut, he lies still
floating in his muddled mind,
beside the cloud and sun.
And I smile wistfully.

I picture him a young boy
spent from playing tag,
drawing this sidewalk scene
lying down just like this . . .

then jumping up to run away,
an entire life in front of him.
Not bumbling to recognize me,
needing a helping hand.


My nephew posted this photo of his son quite some time ago on FB. I loved the photo and asked permission to use it some day on my poetry blog. This little boy is a wonderful bright, lively and imaginative child! I went to a place with this poem that I wasn’t expecting.
Posting for OLN (Open Link Night) at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today that famous guy from Sweden, Bjorn, is still revelling in the summer solstice season and Sweden’s advancement in the World Cup! 

62 thoughts on “Still He Draws

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:29 am

      Thank you, Toni. I am always so so glad to see you here at dVerse! 🙂


  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) June 28, 2018 / 1:52 pm

    This is so sweet… maybe we have to keep that child inside us… and when resting maybe we can imagine leaving… the picture is just wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:31 am

      I know right? I was so enamored with the photo when my nephew posted it. I thought it just so clever to draw a balloon on the sidewalk and then lie down as if holding it! 🙂 Maybe during our dVerse break we should all set aside a day to discover our inner child 🙂


  2. Frank J. Tassone June 28, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    Love the alliteration in the first stanza! I thought of an older relative suffering Alzheimer’s and reliving youth. What a contrast to the photo accompanying the poem, right? Wonderful write, lillian!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:34 am

      Thank you, Frank. You understood the poem exactly. As I mentioned, don’t know how the pen went to the older Alzheimer’s father or uncle becoming a child, chalk drawing, and then his child-like mind having him lie down as if he’s really in the sky………….and then the image being what he imagined…..but I really loved the photo as soon as I saw it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. pramegha June 28, 2018 / 3:47 pm

    It seemed really emotional!
    Somewhere it brought out the loveliness in childhood that everyone yearns to experience again.


    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:35 am

      Ah yes….that magical aspect of childhood….the ability to pretend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Charley June 28, 2018 / 4:04 pm

    Isn’t it true of our poeting that it sometimes (often) takes us places we don’t expect. In this case, you were right to follow the path! It’s beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:36 am

      Thank you, Charley. And oh yes…it is true. Sometimes when I see what a prompt motivated, I just wonder where it came from. Must have been an idea deep deep inside of me that simmered to the top!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charley June 29, 2018 / 1:37 pm

        Must have been! Nicely done.


    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:36 am

      Thank you, Carol. Absolutely lovely to read your reply here. I’ll be off to reading yours and other dVerse folks in just a bit.


  5. lifelessons June 28, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    What a tender poem. Loved it. I’ve had some of these moments with my sister. just found a small notebook filled with notes I took during one of my visits a few years ago. Must turn them into something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:38 am

      Oh yes……the photos of others……the notebooks and writing of others……all can become motivation for our writing. During our break I plan to get out my baby book (born in ’47) and read my mother’s entries….her handwriting was so distinctive and my guess is there will be some parts I’ll jot down for future rumination. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • lifelessons June 29, 2018 / 10:06 am

        I was born in ’47 as well, but as the third child, my mom didn’t even write anything in my baby book except far later, when I was in junior high and wondered why my sisters had baby books and I didn’t. What she wrote was sketchy, at best. And no photos, although I do have photos taken by my older sister, who was eleven years older. If not for her, I’d have none. Not even a family photo…all of which were taken before I was born. The plight of the third child..ha.


  6. Laura Bloomsbury June 28, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    two ends of life as different as chalk and cheese – so poignantly drawn Lilian

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jo June 28, 2018 / 5:47 pm

    This is such a tender piece – really well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:39 am

      Thank you so much, Jo. Lovely to read your comment here this morning. I’ll be off and reading others’ poems in just a bit — when I get my second cup of joe this morning! 🙂


  8. Grace June 28, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    Such a sweet story and photo Lillian ~ Brings a smile to my tiring day at work ~

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:40 am

      Always happy to hand out smiles! Enjoy the break, Grace. I shall be writing and posting a my early mornings. But will be nice not to have deadlines etc.


  9. V.J. Knutson June 28, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    I love this – so sweet and sad. They say we become children again in our end years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:41 am

      Yes — and sometimes that dementia is a return to that childhood innocence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • V.J. Knutson June 29, 2018 / 8:48 am

        It can be…hard to witness though.


  10. Gay Reiser Cannon June 28, 2018 / 9:38 pm

    How wonderfully executed. I have held the hand of such a man now gone two years. He kept his boyish self until the end. It’s odd how we mostly turn and stay women but men keep hold of their boyhood. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:42 am

      Thank you, Gay. Your thoughtful comment is so appreciated! So nice to see you here this morning 🙂


  11. rothpoetry June 28, 2018 / 10:14 pm

    I loved it! Such a creative idea…drawing on the sidewalk, lying down pretending to hold the balloon! And being our age!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:44 am

      Thank you, Dwight. When I first saw the photo, I just grinned ear to ear. It’s been quite a while since I first saw it….but I knew it would be a wonderful prompt for a poem. So glad you enjoyed the photo too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • rothpoetry June 29, 2018 / 7:46 am

        Any great photo can be turned into a poem with the right prompt. You hit a homerun with this one!


  12. anmol(alias HA) June 29, 2018 / 6:58 am

    This is such an emotive write – that beginning signifying a kind of decline with the vivacious spirit still blooming as one progresses through the verse. I liked the balloon and positioning in a way as if one is holding the string.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:45 am

      Thank you for the very thoughtful reply. I’m so glad you enjoyed both the photo and the write!


  13. Colin Lee June 29, 2018 / 7:06 am

    In Chinese, we literally have a saying — “the old will become children again”. I like how the literal buoyancy contrasts with the unspoken heaviness in the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian June 29, 2018 / 7:46 am

      Ah Colin….your insight here is so so appreciated! 🙂 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian July 11, 2018 / 2:22 pm

      A thank you! So glad you enjoyed😊


    • lillian July 11, 2018 / 2:23 pm

      It is a really fun photo — although my words ended up drifting to an entirely different mood.

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian July 11, 2018 / 2:24 pm

      I loved the photo the moment I saw it❤️


  14. Linda Kruschke June 29, 2018 / 5:11 pm

    What a beautiful picture you’ve painted of the seasons of life. And the photo is just as I pictured the memory of the young boy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian July 11, 2018 / 2:25 pm

      Thank you, Linda. Really appreciate your astute comment here – you understood my meaning exactly.


  15. Ali Grimshaw June 29, 2018 / 8:01 pm

    The joy of play, children are masters at it. We can learn so much from hanging out with them.
    I really liked this line, “he draws a simple sun, one cloud.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian July 11, 2018 / 2:26 pm

      I think that’s what’s so fun about being around little children😊

      Liked by 1 person

  16. kim881 June 30, 2018 / 2:05 am

    A wonderful image to inspire a poem, Lill, and I love where it took you! I like how it starts with a chalk bucket and your weekly walk and develops into a mini adventure, with scurrying ants, hopscotch numbers, sun and a cloud. I especially love the transition form drawing to being part of it in:
    ‘Clutching pink chalk, draws a string
    attached to one pink balloon.

    Chalk tossed aside, he lowers himself
    shifts bony frame uncomfortably
    until he is perfectly placed,
    as if holding that pink string.’

    I have the ending to look forward to when my Lucas is older. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian July 11, 2018 / 2:27 pm

      Glad you enjoyed, Kim. Just getting to read comments now – will be ready to get back to dVerse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kim881 July 11, 2018 / 2:37 pm

        I thought I’d finished marking exams and have been asked to do more. I finished my quota but there’s a bit of a backlog. I said I’d do some tomorrow and Friday – what have I let myself in for? I’m looking forward to Monday’s dVerse. 😉


  17. Jay June 30, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    That was just simply so damn beautiful! It was like a fun surprise for me that it happened in real life. He looks so cute by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian July 11, 2018 / 2:28 pm

      Thanks, Jay. And he is really a cutie!


  18. Lona Gynt July 5, 2018 / 12:17 am

    Hands clutching strings
    Time shows itself
    Not linear,
    Not enveloping,
    Not anything,
    Just one big now
    Clasped in smiling arms
    Or waiting impatiently,
    We all float softly
    In the end,
    Back to beginnings.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Lona Gynt July 11, 2018 / 2:57 pm

        Thank you Lillian, I loved your picture and poem here so very much! I work with an elderly population and I love the seamless continuity between childhood and twilight in your write, nuanced subtle and gorgeous, I couldn’t help myself. 💜🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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