Wednesday, January 21, 2015

When I Was Five Years Old

By 1969, I had been dead
(Or so it felt in my dead-tired heart)
The previous five years; but if I lacked
Some spark of living other children held,
I carried in my head a sick sick ghost.
It dragged me out to watch the sunlight die
And bleed from every dusk; then it observed
My bleakness in the grey.

I was compelled
By pictures from the ghost to draw my own.
And so: a house, Victorian and lean,
With tower square, and crowned with narrow mansard --
Bellcast, bullseyed, black, with iron cresting
(Perhaps to fence in widows at their walks).
My favourite design, it drained my pens
And sprawled on pads of paper, stack by stack.

Soon I began to listen to the ghost
Who steeped my head in stories, and I tried
To waste my pens on these, but drawings failed.
Yet kindly women of my Kindergarten
Took heed of what I said (these endless tales)
And wrote the stories down for me. Then I
Would stare at every trace immortalized
By green or purple marker, and pretend
That I had learned to read. It was my trick,
My only magic flourish. It was fake,
As dead as any ghost, but fooled a few.

Where are these ladies now? The ones who chose
To listen while I babbled, and to write
The words that stood beyond me? Forty years
And five can turn a human into dirt;
But I can see their green and purple traces,
I can feel their kindness and concern
Even as the ghost felt mortal daylight
Cooling in the mansard of my head.

1 comment:

MRCosby said...

That's great, Mark. Very evocative. I really enjoyed reading it.