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

    1. 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. oh my gosh, that is so good! It’s my hope to be like you… giving someone a safe place. You are a gem Julie!

  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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