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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

December

By: Benjamin Rose


An elegy for my youth




Would that this house were forever empty

And unending Winter never knew thaw,

That I might bear my grief for an era

Under the false candelabra’s red glow

That lines the dining room table, and gives

No heat from its cold and delusive flames

Fed by a switch, as though fire itself

Holds in abeyance its warmth from the room.

All thoughts of now and future are banished

Into the shade beyond the electric

Candles’ remit, and time forsaken

Falls into twilight, and falls into naught

But the knotted nerves groaning in my chest,

For tonight I bear the heart of a child

Within my ribs, and trembling fingers

Strain in whatever rude measures they may

To speak what it was to be young, when joy

And hope were limitless. Hope without bound

Was fed by innocence, and on the green

Lawn of the farm in North Carolina

Where my Grandfather raised cattle, I ran,

A child of six as blithe as a halfling,

And hunted dinosaurs in the deep woods,

And played at hero. Age was a shadow,

Wan and vague and as vaporous as mist.

I knew not then what weeping would follow,

Though somehow, I guessed no joy without pain

Could be in this world, and sometimes I’d find

Myself, out of nowhere, suddenly sad

Whenever a heartbroken song would sound

On the radio, even when outside

The window of my grandparents’ house,

The sky was blue and Spring was in riot,

Latest Spring, or those early Summer days

In June, when the elementary school term

Ended, and I was set at liberty.


Then…I grew old, and the long years of dearth

Befell, until Poppa passed away, and

That verdant land that had once been my Shire

Was sold off; until my dad raged at me

For cowardice and failure, and young boys

Mocked me for a fat and ludicrous thing,

Cacophonous, weeping, always alone.

I remember wandering the playground

As the Autumn sun burned overhead, lost

In my thoughts, numb and oblivious

To those around me, and the girl who groped

Me at a water park at summer camp,

Till the rage within congealed in silence,

And I spent many years as though my tongue

Were ripped out, so that at seventeen I

Could scarcely hold down a conversation,

Nor hold a man’s eye without quivering.

I remember love, and women, and all

Those sad palpitations of hollow lust

That began in rose and died in canker,

Glass incisions and the bellow of hate;

Pills, residentials, psych wards, wilderness,

Sobbing, grief, masturbation, alcohol,

And, at the end of all things, gazing out

From the tomb of my mother’s living room

Couch at the carven abyss of the mantelpiece,

Insensate as death, too weak to whimper.


What is the balm and merit of these tears,

Here in the gathering December gloom

When my rage has deserted me, and all

My guilt, impaled through my heart like a screw,

Bleeds in a flood within unquenchable

As though it could warm the winter in thaw?

Shall they salvage a single life, or save

Even my own from the maw of darkness,

Rather than run in a wet monument

To flatter my woe and the springs of vanity?

I don’t know; who can say in this transient life

What remains when Death takes us by the hand

And the gray veil of this world falls away

To a far green country under a swift sunrise?

Tonight it remains unanswerable;

But, as we weep our Winter into thaw,

And the shadows lengthen toward the solstice,

Towards Midinváerne, and the embrace of dusk,

When the world fades in ever-during night,

Stand with me here, my infant brother, and

Let us see beyond the pale of our grief

The light of a hundred trees at Christmas,

When Poppa would garb the lawn of the farm

With splendor, and if I had any faith

In Law, or angels, or Nazarene Gods,

It was then…

Hold fast to me boy, and I’ll carry you,

Here through fire at the end of all things,

As over the sky the white flare trembles.

I love you, Benjamin, and I always will.




 

Benjamin Rose is a poet born and raised in the D.C. area and the author of The Road Of Glass and Gardens And Graves. Since 2021, 20 of his poems have been published online or in print, primarily at The Dillydoun Review, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, and Cathexis Northwest Press. He studies English Literature at the Catholic University of America (Class of 2023).

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