Life in Poetry II: The Child Artist

By Andrew R. Duckworth

Photo, photo editing, and poem by Andrew R. Duckworth
At a dinner table
A napkin and pen keep a child content
As adults speak about boring things
Among too much noise from other patrons
And a smell of cigarettes from the smoking section.
Doodling away as if it was a blank page,
Drawing lines, forming images,
All of it poured from what he envisages
At a dinner table
As adults speak about boring things.

At a desk
Paper and graphite keep a child content
As other children sketch away
Creating worlds they dream of
On a drawing pad with peace and quiet,
Giving purpose to every stroke of the pencil.
Drawing lines, gently shading,
Engagingly participating
At a desk
As other children sketch away.

In a school hall
The view of a finished self portrait keeps an artist content
As other students view work,
Passing by and admiring skill,
Marveling at the talents of artists still in high school
As if they were in some Manhattan art gallery.
Commenting, surveying,
At the art the school is displaying
In a school hall
As other students view work.

A young man puts pastels away
In a drawer where they will stay
As he focuses on other goals
He wishes to meet.
Instead, he gets a pen and pad,
Lined pages he forgot he had,
And writes a clever phrase or two,
But will not stop until he's through.

Way before I was ever interested in writing (or even knew what writing was really), I was given a paper napkin and a pen at a restaurant in the town where I grew up. It was a way that I would stay pacified while waiting for food at the age of two or three (I can’t remember the exact age although I can play the memories like movies in my head. No older than three). I’m not sure what prompted me to ask for a pen with my napkin. If I remember correctly, I had previously seen my father draw a series of funny faces on a napkin one time and was so amazed by it I had to try it out for myself. The restaurant was named the Alamo Restaurant (I’m sure there’s a story as to why a small town, Northeast Arkansas restaurant had such a name, but I do not know it). From then on, every time we went to eat there, I had to have a paper napkin and a pen. I would draw all sorts of things and I developed a skill. Usually, I drew dinosaurs. I was obsessed with them as a child and, at the age of 32, absolutely nothing has changed when it comes to that obsession. Still obsessed and can call out dinosaur names like your average five year old. Not to be a brag, but, as I aged, I became very good at drawing. I won a few awards when I was in high school and, when I went to University, studio art was what I initially majored in. But, I fell out of love with drawing and art in general as far as making it a career. My real love was literature and writing, which is what the end of the poem refers to. I do still draw on occasion, but it is usually to sketch out characters or cities or fictional things in order to better visualize before writing them down. It helps when adding detail. I am now a graduate with a Master of Arts in English. I look back fondly on those days at the Alamo Restaurant where I would ask for napkin after napkin so I could draw. I was happy to sit quietly and create for a while. Sadly, the restaurant is no longer there, but the memories are.

This writing is the work of its author, Andrew Ryan Duckworth, and can in no way be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any form without request from the author.

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