Bio Note: Another birthday, another year to add to the pile, my thoughts drifting back to my beginnings. Two poems this month - one concerns earliest memories, the other is an ekphrastic take on a photo I took. In the twilight era of newspaper journalism, I still write one story a week for The Boston Globe, and I’m hoping to see a couple of works of fiction published this year.
I am growing Ever so small at the beginning of things, yet I am growing Kissena Park, Flushing, Queens, walking home with Dad who takes me, after work, to the playground Freed of my daylong presence, Mom takes a pass After play time, the swings, perhaps monkey bars, I am enjoying the freedom of the warm evening on the walk home when I slip, attempting some show-off gesture a touch beyond my childish confidence and fall, cutting my knee on something sharper than mere earth, my first wounding, by something harder than mere flesh, though at so long a remove I will never recall what dare I was taking, what test of my agility that resulted in a stumble. “I told you not to do that!” Dad scolds “Glass,” he reports to Mom. “I told him to watch out for broken glass on the ground.” “Not too bad,” she replies, seemingly unworried, a pattern that repeats in my future stumbles, which grow in severity as years advance Glass, I think later: a reason for bleeding Everybody needs a reason for bleeding I do not feel the wound, at least not in memory, but the disappointment of failing to complete that little playful leap, that stretching of my childish wings 2. We live in Grandma’s house, the old brownstone on a numbered street where the buses go by at night, every night in the summer dark, and I am exiled from the company of humans to dwell among the shadows of the darkened bedroom above the night-clad street. I hear the muttered exhalations, the squeeze of brakes, opening of doors Upstairs in the big old house we left behind, so memory insists, when I was only three – Is this arrow from the past my first memory? The wound in the park – Or, from that same-shadowed epoch, a cry for my mother in fear of the shadows from the street playing on the wall opposite my child’s-bed – “There are men in my room!” I insist, “Big men!” “No one’s in your room,” Mom concludes, using my full first name in token of her authority, after a skeptical examination of the flicker-show. “It’s only shadows.” Shadows and cutting glass. Does she leave the door ajar? Downstairs the adults question, and her replies betray an air of qualification replacing the reassurance offered to the bed-bound child. Early indications, I take it, that I am on my own. The big people are at hand. They care for me, but cannot be relied on for everything. No Odysseus, but I bear the scar.
Photo credit: Robert Knox
The name is no exaggeration A creature made of formal beauty A head shaped like a woodcutter's wedge its plane horizontal, no top to its bottom The angle down the back more shapely than the angle down the front Its stance an unearthly walk upon the water, its twin, a staged imitation – almost perfect, but upon inspection possibly a little better Its color either white, all colors merged into one, or a single offering of light on water, the color of shimmer Built for the job, or something grander Shining like an idea in the eye of god
©2021 Robert Knox
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