For Young Friends Who Live in Darkness

I just found this in a folder on my computer. It’s a simple thing I wrote a good ten years ago for a student who came to my room during lunch everyday. It was a safe and quiet place, and he sat in the back of the room and read. I rarely said anything to him. There were a few students like that over the years. I wasn’t sure if I should have done more, but a safe and quiet place seemed like a good thing back then. Still does. I hope they are well.

“It was foolish and arrogant … to think you could imagine the truth of another human life, to penetrate its deepest secrets…”

 – Richard Russo

For Young Friends

Who Live in Darkness

I do not pretend

to understand how night

holds you under

or where you go

when a riff of chords

pulls you down

or what happens

to a heart

that beats for nothing

or how it feels

when panic grabs your throat.

But I do know some things,

things we all learn

elsewhere, nowhere.

Pain, fear, humiliation, emptiness.

These are things I know, too.

I do not pretend

to understand your darkness.

But I will stay right here

as shadows lengthen

on empty streets

and listen

for the beat of your heart.


14 thoughts on “For Young Friends Who Live in Darkness

    • Thanks, David. I wonder more about the students who couldn’t even escape to an empty classroom. I suppose I would think twice about doing it now — as with everything. But I would hope students can still find safe spaces in schools.


  1. For me, safety was the library when I could get there. Thank you for giving others a safe place. I can only speak for myself but in those days, I would not have gone back if you had spoken. It isn’t you but it was all that was on my plate. However, reading your poem, would have been a wonderful gift even then.


  2. Pingback: For Young Friends Who Live in Darkness | wordcarmen

  3. Thank you for sharing this, nicely written. I liked how the poem surprised the reader by reaching out with hope and empathy after the initial imagery of despair. I hope others read a couple of times too.


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