As if in answer to a primordial urge,
I longed for something
to which to

apprentice myself.

I could not learn
to become
my mother for obvious
reasons that were not obvious

to me, so I waited. I felt
as incorrect
playing baseball
as a bear cub moving in

with a family of turtles.
Other boys
sensed my fear

of them and, I now think,
were afraid
they were missing something
that should have

scared them: themselves.
I was always afraid of myself,

my mind, quite clearly a dangerous
place to be: I could think

about anything, any
horrible depraved thing, and

whether or not I did
at that tender age, I knew
I was not safe
in my head, which was

where I knew my self was.
Childishly, I assumed

only my head was like that,
that they hated me
for a good, educated
reason. In fact,

I now think, they knew
better and hoped

that by attacking
and shaming the fear
resident in me,

in my self, they might
drive away the dark
within theirs.

Instead they expressed it,
which I did not,

hence I was a good candidate
for poetry

into which one’s latent
monstrousness can seep

like moisture into good wood
for decades, a lifetime.
My dark is rotting harmlessly
in my poetry.

I’ve saved myself
and my life and
those I love for light.