Alice & Wendy
Alice said to Wendy, “Your Peter got it wrong”.
“He’s not my Peter!” Wendy snapped, then heard the words. “Hold on,”
“Got what wrong? Which part? Aside from the obvious –
I never could imagine why he thought I’D clean his house.”
Alice went on doggedly, ignoring Wendy’s chaff.
“You know, that freaky “won’t grow up” fixation that he has.
I think he’s missing something, something big and good and real-
I think he’s trapped himself inside the limit of his fears.
The thing I think he’s missing is so simple that it’s tragic –
Who says growing up means that you have to give up magic?”
Wendy kissed her nose. “You mean, the magic of Twoo Wuv?”
Alice said, “That isn’t quite what I was thinking of –
“well, that too. But that’s not all of it – I think there’s a delusion
That once your gonads kick in, it’s an end to all illusion.
Of *course* love is important, but it’s not the only thing.”
“You mean that magic’s everywhere, like in that song Dar sings?”
“Sort of, but that’s still not all of it. We’ve been deluded
There’s magic or there’s not. Who sez we shouldn’t be included?
Those books they write for kids keep hammering on that same old story:
There’s magic and adventure, there’s hope and fun and glory –
But only for a few more years, and then it all goes ffftt!
Can’t even keep your memories – well, I call that bullshit.”
Wendy said, “Okaaaay .. and by the way, you’re kind of cute
When you get all ranty-pants – but what’s your substitute?
“What would *you* tell a young girl who’s been dreaming of adventure?”
Alice said, “I’d tell her that adulthood’s not indenture –
Sure, you have to pay the bills, you have to do some kind of work.
You do the thing that needs you, if you’re not a total jerk,
“But that *doesn’t* mean you have to live your life in shades of gray
Or that you can have fun in only standard grown-up ways.
Even if you’re married – or you’re partnered otherwise –
You aren’t bound and fettered, unless that’s what *you* decide.
“You can cartwheel down the hallway – just be careful of the walls.
You can chase Hook down the Spanish Main – just watch out for the squalls.
Keep an eye on passing rabbits, just in case they start to mutter
(But watch out for the Red Queen; she’s a homicidal nutter.)”
Wendy got excited, and said “Now I think I see:
Check the backs of wardrobes, pick up strange coins on the street.”
“That’s exactly it! If you believe all fun is over,
You certainly will have none. If you meet a ramblin’ rover
“And you tell him, ‘I can’t go with you – can’t stay up late tonight
And I have to get up early. Another time. Goodnight!’
Or if you meet a talking toad, but you worry about germs
And so refuse to kiss him, per the classic Märchen terms,
Believing what they told you, that adulthood must be staid
then of course it will! But I don’t think it has to,” Alice said.
“I might be wrong on everything, but just in case I’m not –
I’ll check those wardrobes every time – even if I’m caught.”
Wendy answered, “Yes, you’re right. I’d rather live that way:
hoping and believing – and I will not be afraid
of what everybody thinks. Anyway, it may be so:
You might meet some kindred spirits. Or a Psammead. Who knows?”
(Note: Had I read The Box of Delights a few weeks ago when I wrote this, there would probably also be a scathing reference to “then he woke up” endings. Future rereads will certainly skip the last half of the last page.
Second note: I think some poems are probably just too weird to submit anywhere, and anyway this one was inspired by so many things on LJ that I always intended it for there … and here.)