Books on a shelf. Old books,
the books you read as a child
from your grandfather’s shelves.
Books too old, your teachers told you,
for a child your age.
But one reads what one has,
and I was steeped in the nineteenth century
by the age of ten. All proper English
even in the most murderous of plots,
well aware of the worst evils,
and their polite waist coats and fine words.
You were an old soul, or so your mother told you,
even before the phrase became a cliché.
You watched too much. Said too little.
Your gaze in conversations was too still,
too focused on the person across the table.
According to my mother, I even made adults
They called me wise as a boy.
I never saw it. Never felt it.
Tried to believe it, but never could.
There was, there is, too much I will never know,
too many gaps on the page
of every person I meet. Chapters missing
where the antagonist waits
with a knife.
About this poem
Too many layers of my life in this one to explain in a paragraph or two. But I suspect most of us have been damaged by things we did not know. No one tells their whole story. No one.