Child Within

 


I.

A little girl sits on a bench,
swings her legs 
and reads from her book 
of a thousand and one jokes.

I glimpse, in that act, 
a young woman,

and I am thrilled
and deeply
shaken
at once.


II.

A look crosses a woman’s face, 
flashes 

for less than a moment,
too fast 
to be
more than
barely seen.
The girl that once was
comes passing through
a passing thought 

and is caught  
—only not caught—

and gone before 
she is known 
for what she is
or what she was,

left with only the 
memory of 
an expression
of memory

passed beneath the surface.

The little girl is gone.




III.

A little boy cries out
from an old 
man’s face,
 
the sad one,
the lost one, 
the last one, 

beyond comprehension 
of a hard-won heart.

The learned self-given healing

—even that—
is gone.

Pain 
as can only be known
to a child is

carried on and on,
a burden that one 
never wants to open.
 


IV.

A son is asked 
by his father

—but it is the cry of the lost boy,
ripped from somewhere deep 
in the old man’s throat—

“Will you be my mommy?”

How can a son answer this,
when his father does the asking?

Is this what it feels like to be born?
To lose forever the warmth
that is still (but now only) 
known from within?

We find us both 
lost past longing
and long past lost.

Incomprehensible  
why this happens to any of us,
this slap that is existence.

A son is carried by his father
for so many years that he is
shocked to realize he is no 
longer being carried, surprised
to find himself standing with 
his own legs under him.


V.

A little girl sits on a bench,
swings her legs 
and reads her book 
of a thousand and one jokes.

I glimpse, in that act, 
a young woman,

and I am thrilled
and deeply
shaken
at once.





“what we see is never what we touch” — over there

Image

 

 

 

(the title of the series comes from “The Wings of Daylight” by W. S. Merwin)

 

Songs of Fictive Moments: As you left







I did not listen to your leaving
as you left. I did not hear 

the floorboards creaking, the scrape 
of your fingernails on the wall

down the hall, the click-click
of them on the doorknob, the 

catch-cracking of the latch opening 
or the scream of the hinge of the door. 

No, I did not hear them at all.
I stayed where I was in my chair

with my thoughts and my drink
and my stare but I did hear you stop.

I heard your breath catch in your throat.
I heard the hesitation in your step,

your two desires pulling you apart, 
pulling you to pieces right there 

on the threshold, right there in the hall.
I heard the split in you. All these things 

I heard as you stood there, the house 
ticking around you, the floor 

stretching away down the hall.
I heard your cheek almost touch 

your shoulder, your chin almost 
touch your collar bone and then 

I heard your head whip back to 
front, the snap of the earth back 

into place. The slam of the door
I did not hear, and again

the silence as I sat. I 
was firm in the fabric  

of the seat of the chair.
I was sewn there.

My skin tore 
as I tried to rise.

So I didn’t.
So I let you.








(The third piece in a series of unrelated pieces that are somehow, in my mind, related)