The One Sure Truth
Poem By Will Thomas
In the long, narrow hall of home,
hangs a bleached and fading picture of four-year-old me:
holding hands with his bushy browed grampa,
wearing one of those plaid wool caps
that kids always used to wear
and a button up sweater
with reindeer stitched into it.
searches the lens of the camera,
the skin above his ears white and shy from a fresh haircut,
so innocent as to be almost foolish.
And tiptoeing the barbed wire of melancholy,
I'd like to tell that me some things,
in his grampa's backyard,
in Rochester, New York,
I'd warn him that living hurts,
that there are hard things out there:
sirens in the night,
people he loves ripped from the earth,
flimsy, gray funerals,
I'd whisper that there is an emptiness out there-
deep and swirling
and black enough
to shatter the soul.
I'd remind him to look both ways before crossing,
and to dress warmly when the cold days come.
I'd tell him to take care.
'Be careful, ' I'd beg.
He would not hear.
He smiles sweetly.
(I can do nothing for him.)
Life found him.
That was always
the one sure truth
in the backyards of Rochester,
in the summer of the fireflies,
So, there is only this left:
I have come, somehow, to love that boy.
I'd like him to know.
(written 1984, revised 2004)