Donald Hall, “The Child”


He lives among a dog,
a tricycle, and a friend.
Nobody owns him.

He walks by himself, beside
the black pool, in the cave
where icicles of rock

rain hard water,
and the walls are rough
with the light of stone.

He hears low talking
without words.
The hand of a wind touches him.

He walks until he is tired
or somebody calls him.
He leaves right away.

When he plays with his friend
he stops suddenly
to hear the black water.

~ ~ ~

From Old and New Poems. I really love how the simple language in this poem describes the fierce, innocent, ignorant independence of childhood. “Nobody owns him.” Simple. One might say obvious, maybe, but if it is so obvious why am I struck with such an intense moment of clarity when reading that line? Why does it resonate so deeply?

Charles Simic, “Navigator”
Jim Harrison, “After the Anonymous Swedish”

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