Do you think about your childhood? Do you remember it fondly? Or was it painful and hurtful?
I suspect that most of us would say both. Each childhood is different, each person has a different life.
This is a poem about my life. I hope it means something to you.
I took a walk today where a boy once walked,
in a dream, in a memory, a lifetime ago.
I stepped where he stepped and stood where he stood,
I stared across fields of his long-vanished youth.
And I reached out to touch him…
But then he was gone.
He looked somewhat like me,
Brown hair, blue eyes,
But the brown hair was all brown,
Did not yet have gray,
And those blue eyes –
So much brighter than mine.
They had not yet seen cruelty
They had not yet seen someone
For the very last time.
His face, it was smooth.
It was bursting with life.
It didn’t yet sag and it carried no pain,
It was not yet a roadmap of worries and woes.
It was young, oh, so young, so impossibly so.
I noticed him smiling, though no one was near,
Well, no one but me, but I don’t count, I fear.
He smiled as he built a dam in the creek
That ran behind his house, his trailer with wheels,
With cement blocks under to hold it all up.
He smiled because he was happy,
He was free,
And had no idea the bullies were coming.
Had no idea that his classmates could be
like werewolves, like monsters, like Jekyll and Hyde,
To turn on him suddenly, hateful and cruel.
And drive him to madness, and drive him to tears,
And drive him to beg his mom, “Please, let me stay!
Don’t make me go off to school today!
They’ll hit me, they’ll hurt me, and I don’t know why!”
The car would echo with his cry,
But she would send him off to die, a little, every day.
I noticed his shoulders, so small and so fine,
And perfectly built for climbing a tree.
They did not yet bear the weight of a life
They hadn’t yet shouldered the yolk of a job,
And bills, and ills,
And deaths. Or worse,
Of children who slay you,
One day at a time
In discrete little pieces, all numbered and tagged.
And filed alphabetically in small Zip-Lock bags.
That boy didn’t know of storms that were coming,
but who ever does? Who am I to complain
That he wasn’t yet ready
To suffer, to suffer,
To suffer and cry and little by little to die,
And yet live, to live and love.