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.