This poem is unique in many ways because it suggests that children participate in a world of “secret smiles” (line 20). It is filled with details that in life might give fits to a harried parent, but in the poem’s context the memory of children overshadows the chaos they usually create with the detritus of their play.
“Where Children Live” introduces a number of images of
“pleasant rumpledness, ” such as lost shoes, chipped trucks, “bottle rockets, and whistles, Anything whizzing and spectacular, brilliantly short-lived” (lines 11-13).
This poem is about children as children themselves go about creating their own identities. Adults may try to impose their visions, and give children
“swings, leafy plants, slow-motion back and forth” (line 10),
but children do their own things and make their own messes, so that they imprint their characteristics on the locations where they have been playing.
The poem is unique in creating sentiment, without being sentimental, about a subject that very easily might go over the edge.