(How Poems Work, June 2005)
Brad Cran’s poem “On Childhood” works on several levels, as most evocative and strong pieces of writing do. It is fundamentally a lamentation of childhood, of loss, imbued with particulars. The poem suggests a strange almost melancholic longing for what most thirty-somethings have in common: the sophisticated childhood gleaned from growing up in the aftermath of free-love. It speaks to the children moving out from the communes filled with doodleart and ponchos, finding Clifford Olsen (for those of us from BC) calling us at dusk from our cul-de-sacs : “We dreamt of bloodied hammers,/ a bad man and a rusty van hunched down/ in the parking lot of Safeway.” However–and this not an easy task to undertake, let alone to succeed at in such a small, contained piece of writing–the loss of childhood is made tactile. It becomes real, remembered, the loss irrevocable: “This tree I passed every night without interest/ until the potential of slick rubber tires,/ the sparkling handlebars that I gripped/ as my imagination pedaled off into the night, / where what exists around the corner is left/ out of the lens.” Cran has the ability to articulate the universal grief of growing up, and leaving behind the child we once were….