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“Cadence”, a poem by A. Pope

last summer vacation early afternoon
in the sizzling hot air of the local train station
in the sweltering mob of people hurrying to the next destination
a high school kid plays guitar and sings
soft words like silver tumbling from his mouth
and he gently strums that same guitar
to those silken slangy words assured and suave words

and he keeps on strumming idly humming
to a hassle of people hurrying and thrumming and
I can’t help but stop to listen to lend an ear
to stop awhile and listen
and this tall tall boy the color of the richest thing in a fertile land
the richest with his beat up guitar case open for a couple dollars more
I stand he stands two stillnesses
and he sings la da dee dah day he sings mmm-hhhmmm
one sublimating afternoon
this is life, this is life
that subway stations he sings
this is life, this is life.

little girl out in the middle of a marketplace
standing in the dry dust, barefoot, looking at an open sky
the size of her stomach which clenches and pulses out
and kneads her insides into pulp, her thin bare knees
stick out from under her dress
this little girl in the middle of nowhere

and please this disease is eating me inside out
like a black hole in space in no-place
and who will give me medicine to live to breathe to look up at the sky
who will give me medicine to wonder why to live to die
and through it all she cries
with her bare feet pressing the dirt,
reminding it of its curelessness she cries
this is life, this is life,eating me up
this is life, this is life.

And sometime later across the world and up again
I sit in a chair in a house in a town in a world
I croon to you ,you talk to me
Mother passes the corn and Daddy passes the bread
they bow down their heads to pray to thank
and I look up instead, we are a circle
Kept and cared in one bright home
left and love and remembered once upon a time,
A child grew up in a family with a love of round circles and words
Loved without a reason or a rhyme and then

No fairy tale documents this story of
Fragile house of cards; but love is not frail
So when the other stories go with happily-ever-after
Happily, ever, after
It’d be okay with me to stay and sit encircled,
no fairy tale, because
this is life, this is life,

Songs and food and love,
this is life, this is life.

Created for the Kids for World Health EXPO event on March 23, 2005. A. Pope  read the first and second stanzas. “Cadence” was read and patterned similarly to the rhythms of one of her favorite poets, Eloise Greenfield.

A. Pope was in 8th grade at the time of writing Cadence, and  has been a poet most of her life.