A Poem of My Life

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.

 

The Boy

 

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 blue!

So much brighter than mine.

They had not yet seen cruelty

From lover,

From brother.

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,

to die.

And yet live, to live and love.

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5 thoughts on “A Poem of My Life

  1. Sheila says:

    Powerful

  2. Anthony C says:

    I felt a lot of emotion in your poem Matt. The last line seems a bit like a “dues ex machina.” Was that intentional? (especially that you seemed to want to emphasize it with bold letters). It is uplifting to see that in the midst of so much tragedy/darkness, your poem and your experience ends with a hopeful tone. I was wondering where it comes from…? (artistically, but more importantly [for my interest] where it comes from in your life =) ) You left (at least) me in suspense!

    • Thanks, Anthony. Sorry that last line was in bold. It wasn’t supposed to be, and I’ve corrected it. However, I did end the poem with a positive note on purpose. The poem was inspired when I drove through my old neighborhood, where I lived until I was about seven. I was thinking how much simpler life was, and how few worries I had. Also, how things that were happening then would grow in later years to be painful (like my parents fighting frequently), but I didn’t see them that way then. But, after I take all of my life into account, this poem was melancholy, but life in general has been punctuated by great joy and love. I wanted that to be a part of the little boy’s journey!

  3. Anthony C says:

    Love it =)

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