Neighbor Boy

April 21, 2007

My wife worries about the boy,
says she doesn’t want to see him fall and break his head.
He is an odd child, like a pen-and-ink illustration
in a children’s book from last century.
Small feet, narrow body and limbs,
and a too-big head with adult features.
Every day after school he climbs the tree
across the road from our kitchen window.
He plays up there; his own mother doesn’t seem to mind.
Today he is as high as he’s ever been.
His shoulders and head are above the leaves,
and I think again that he is such a little boy.
The wind is gusting, and he flaps in the yellow air.
The rain might come soon, and lightning.
I want to go outside in the gathering storm
and watch with the boy for the breaking point.
But my little ones are inside with me, and I stay with them.
He holds his profile still for a long time—looking right into the wind.
I watch his head and wonder if he is a pirate in the crow’s nest,
or a rider on the plain galloping into the wild west.
Now I begin to worry about him for the first time.
What if he falls? It is so windy. These things can happen.
But he is not my child to correct.
In his tree, on this day, he belongs to no one.

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9 Responses to “Neighbor Boy”

  1. Dave Bonta Says:

    Very compelling. I didn’t know you wrote poetry! I especially like “watching for the breaking point,” and the last line. More, please.

  2. Brett Says:

    This was my first effort in several years. I often think I want to write a poem, but when I try, it comes out clunky and staccato. Maybe I will try some more, though. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Alex Says:

    I *am* afraid that child is going to break his head.

  4. Evonne Says:

    I love it Brett. Keep it up. You never cease to amaze me.

  5. LambSoup Says:

    I love it, man. I love the rhyme of crow’s nest and wild west. I love These things can happen, and the whole dang poem. Right on, poem man. And by the way, that boy is a version of Ken, who was a heart-stopping daredevil. His mom was always telling him to stop climbing the telephone pole outside their house because he was going to fall and as you say, break his head. Well, one day, from his perch on the telephone pole, Ken watched his mom walk up the street to the store. She yelled up at him to get down before you break your head! He climbed down and hid in a bush, watching for her to leave the store, and then scurried into the street, where he positioned himself in a terrible shape, so that when his mom walked up, she’d think he’d fallen from the telephone pole and broken more than his head. As soon as she saw him, she ran up in a panic, at which point he started to laugh. How she didn’t kill him then and there, I don’t know.

  6. sheepdays Says:

    Thanks, LambSoup. I value your comments. Also loved the story about naughty little Ken. I’m quite sure my mother would have tanned my hide for something like this!

  7. Brett Says:

    Have you dropped off of the face of the blogging universe?? What did you do, move across the country or something? I love you…

  8. Alex Says:

    Hahahahaha, sorry that I commented on your blog as you, honey!

  9. Evonne Says:

    Now Brett this is serious. Your dear wife is recruiting help. So you have nothing to blog about? How about pictures of your new life, memories of sledding by G&G’s, the famous car wreak, your mother’s yellow sweater, finding snakes as a kid, and your deep thoughts about everyday happenings? We miss you here in AR.


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