Is the never of childhood, deeper
than the never of adolescence,
which has a whining, stammering
quality, which is a stamped foot
followed by huffing steps, and wholly
unlike the never of adulthood,
has none of the bright spider
cracks of reason multiplying
along its roof, threading its dark
dome with fine lines of light.
Didn't you think, with such a
cavernous never in mind,
you might have consulted me?
Even a 3 AM phone call would've
been justified. On the line
in the dark, you could have shared
a little childhood mythology,
told me about some night when
you didn't sleep, couldn't hear
your parents, and morning seemed
further away than "far away,"
seemed consigned to a distinct
and inimitable never. You could've
evoked for me the particular textures
of that never, explained that
you were mulling them again now,
assaying them for a contemporary
application. Sure, I'd have been
startled. What would you expect-
hearing how your childhood bed
sank into a hollow in the earth,
or how nighttime had, snickering,
closed you in its trench coat, and
how the residue of the experience,
the resin it left, you were brewing
into something for us. I'd have
wanted to see you right away
and would have been myself
forced to wait till next morning.
So, I, too, would've spent
an evening in an underground
hollow, or bundled up inside
night's coat, wading through
one never on the off chance
that I could forestall another.
About this poem
"I wrote this poem at the end of a painful relationship, a sustained experiment in withholding (on both sides). That experience saturates the poem, evident not only in its belated call for communication, but also in the manner of that call-the urgency and finality of a 'childhood never' versus the poem's cool surface."
-Benjamin S. Grossberg
About Benjamin S. Grossberg
Benjamin S. Grossberg is the author of "Space Traveler" (University of Tampa Press, 2014). He teaches at the University of Hartford and lives in West Hartford, Conn.
The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.
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(c) 2014 Benjamin S. Grossberg. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate