Poetry: Child’s Room in Autumn
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ROBERT PINSKY: Here, for this season of school and football–and also of terror–is Rosanna Warren’s poem, “Child’s Room in Autumn:”
The scene is about order, the maple tree
a conflagration trapped in the rectangle
of window, the Newton High football
players outside an explosion surging free
of the grip of game and field.
And the sky is gray cotton
batting pressing down
over us, wadded by skilled
hands between branches and rooflines.
October wants to ignite.
In Benjamin’s room, a set
of toy soldiers shines
along the shelf, jumble
of prancing eras
armed with bazookas, crossbows, spears.
Tacked to the wall,
a Map of Planet
Earth’s Disaster Areas shows
garlands of volcanoes
spilling cherries out
to sea, buttercups for
earthquakes, a lime-green swarm
of bees the tornado alarm:
toy translations of war
sprinkled across the map
as though catastrophe were a board game
you could win. The room
holds peace in a trap
of representations. Ben’s at school,
the house clenches its calm,
the Times softly delivers its daily harm
in grisaille blur, but geometrical:
pyramid-hunched, a mother grieves
over small bodies arranged in a row;
elsewhere, a darkhaired boy
stands alone as the last jeep leaves
under a charred, rectangular swatch of sky.
The scenes are about
suffering, how it lurches out
of any picture, giving the lie
to pity, to composition.
I sweep Benjy’s room,
waiting for him to come
home, happy with stories: he’ll run
out into the autumn field
cheers erupt, helmets are tossed high,
and leaves swim down in wild
shoals, gold pennants, streamers
loosened to glorify
the field, the ephemeral victors,
leaving the boughs to the sky.