A Muse of Childhood
*Nestled in Downtown Kansas City, Arthur Kraft’s mosaic greeted all who visited the old library. The mosaic still remains even though this children’s library has long since closed. It continues to inspire many who loved it when growing up. I know, I am among those people. Every time I walk by the mosaic, my favorite moments are when the sun glances upon the tiles and they shimmer with glints of silver or gold.
A Muse of Childhood
Majestically, patiently, the Muse endures the storm’s fury,
guarding the children, animals, and performers of the mosaic
who hold gentle, lilting, laughing music within,
waiting to sing out in the bright sunshine.
Tan Ta Rah! Boom! Laughing bells ring in time to the drums!
Our Muse beckons the elephant to promenade first with a small, triumphant boy atop.
Her right arm sweeps up with the sun to welcome gleeful penguins and
hungry little chicks pecking and hatching in the grass.
The dust and mud on the tiles can’t hold them back.
Little girls skip in the brightness and dance with swaying flowers
while their brother scales higher, higher, and higher in crescendos
to the highest treetops, a balcony to see all the circus.
With each glint and glisten, a melody forms and sails on the morning breeze.
The Muse nods and bows and summons the clown sailing backwards on
a white horse who gallops in time to the dog’s staccato barks while
a kangaroo coos lullabies to her little joey.
Skyscrapers, smog, honks, and headaches can’t hold them captive.
A seal honks and bounces while the ostrich struts and stretches to the blue sky.
Atop this magnificent bird, a child sits as a queen and
shares her triumphant hymn with the Muse.
The Muse of our childhood
watches, remembers, reminds, nudges, teases,
entreats, encourages, waits, and sighs.
She knows the lion is there to frighten us
yet remains safely away in a cage in this parade of life.
Her heart hums the elegies of loss and pain and
the requiems we compose with age, fear, and cruelty.
Even the monkey’s jabbering ditty warns of growing up and old.
Its rhymes cackle and crack, like the concrete tears in this neglected picture.