High in his small clean bedroom
he lived a fantasy tale
of magic aspiration
a refuge from the real,
which hed been taught to fear
as a thing one mustnt trust
and thus had little purchase on
(hed learn this to his cost).
Trained by books and solitude
to see himself as the all
hed caught a frightened glimpse or two
of a harshly other world
that threatened and surrounded. How
could he know its wrongs and rights?
Safer, he thought, to linger on
within the enchanted gates
than venture, say, those three flights down
to the closed-off basement realm
of kitchen smells and servant talk:
it never felt like home . . .
And so hed watch and wonder
until his mother returned
from shopping, fresh and loving,
not knowing how hed yearned.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 19 Number 6, on page 31
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