When I was a wee rosebud a teacher introduced me to Shel Silverstein and his marvelously lyrical and whimsical poems. The poem Where the Sidewalks Ends has always captivated me.
The first community that I remember living in was Burke Centre, outside Washington, D.C., an ambiguous region known as NOVA. The sidewalks went on for miles and miles. They did end, but it never seemed that way.
I was eight or nine when I found one of those ending places, three or four miles from the puke green house that my family occupied. My older brother was allegedly watching me, but I don’t recall him being in the house; so in a rare moment of daring, I left and took off through the neighborhood. I had never walked that far before and to be honest, didn’t ever want to walk that way again. The houses were older and had an unsettling feel to them, my body tensed as I passed by. It was an alien place outside the boundaries of the community and my norm.
Silverstein’s poem took on new meaning for me that day. I knew exactly where the boundaries of my world were that day and it scared me. It was perhaps the last time my life would ever be so defined and yet, limitless at the same time. Fear held me back that day. Curiosity has replaced fear and carried me forward, now my inter-child delights in looking over the edge. Finds joy in seeing what is out there and marks the spots where the sidewalk ends with enthusiasm.
by Shel Silverstein
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.