When the Playgrounds are Closed

Dedicated to my daughter, raising children in quarantine for a year.

In Valencia, Spain where they live, children had to stay indoors for 42 days straight last year. Then they could go out once a day at certain times. Now they can go out anytime but the playgrounds have all been closed for the entire time. Their school playground opened just this week. But this poem is about not having them-

My daughter thinks they waited to clear away the dead tree, in sympathy for the children!

When the playgrounds are closed, how do you play?

Run down, down and round the bend without falling-

Teeter on the edge of the canal without falling-

Climb the lower railing-

Bend over and look down-

Think about what you see-

Run under the bridge-

Stomp in puddles-

Ambush your sister when she arrives at your puddle-

Laugh and stomp the puddle away-

Draw chalk in puddles until you have paint-

Paint yourself, purple-

Trade colors with your brother, blue-

Wash in the puddle-

Visit your tree-

Notice it’s bark/leaf buds/

Visit your tree-

Notice it’s leaves/shadows/

Visit your tree-

Notice it’s flower buds/flowers/bugs in them/

Visit your tree-

Notice it’s seedpods/leaf scars/

Run faster than you ever did before-

Fall sometimes-

Grow

7 thoughts on “When the Playgrounds are Closed

  1. Wow! Hats off to your daughter. I can’t imagine. We’ve been outside more than every before. My son’s 5th grade class now takes two long walks per day through the neighborhood (on top of recess) and I hope this outdoor play survives the pandemic.
    Your poem is playful- like a challenge- a challenge to make the best out of a difficult situation.

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  2. Even without playgrounds, children will play. You have captured all the things they can do without equipment in nature.

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  3. The use of repetition was really powerful. It represented what this year has been and how long it has been. I think this has impacted children of all ages. Even my 19 and 21 year old have missed life stages and mourn connection -true connection with others. This poem will beautifully document this time in their lives. Something to inspire memories of a time when.

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  4. I have three young daughters and going outside was our saving Grace during quarantine. I can’t imagine being stuck inside. Kids will find fun in any situation. Your poem confirms that. Mine got very into mud last spring!

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  5. Your poem brings out the essence of how children around the world were forced to find new ways to occupy their free time. What may have been once ignored will now be a lasting memory.

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  6. I love that your poem actually made the tree the playground. I can imagine that, after being inside for 42 days, just about anything outside could be a playground. I’m so glad they made it through!

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