DANIEL DEFOE CONTEST WINNER
(“Poor Robin! Poor Robin Crusoe!” – the parrot in Defoe’s ROBINSON CRUSOE)
When I read, much later,
That the father of ROBINSON CRUSOE
Died in Ropemaker’s Alley, hiding from creditors,
I cried like the girl I was, at 8, who first met Robinson,
And my heart leapt into my throat —
No! I argued – the spirit of Defoe demanded
Expanses, vastness, NOT that squalid little room.
I lived with Robinson, swam with him from the wreck
To the unmapped island, alongside the dog and cat.
He contrived the hut from odd bits of planks and palms,
And later, for a change, his own “bower” of repose.
When he first saw the famous footprint in the sand,
I gasped with fear and amazement, as Robin did.
His musket and manly outrage saved Friday from cannibals,
And the two unlikely men adopted each other, like father and son,
Like blood brothers – the first tender friendship
In the first novel in English.
Then I was reading a children’s edition that ended too soon, unforgivably,
With the rescue boat in full sail, Crusoe on deck in his goatskin clothes.
WHERE WAS FRIDAY? I panicked, asked my father, my teacher,
The library ladies, the janitor, the bus driver —
Until I found a simple drawing, like any family album photo,
Showing the two friends, smiling, arm-in-arm, on the ship.