The Hidden Word
When you are young, oblivious
(an oversight you age to correct)
the stranger (hunched, worried) remains unknown–
just a passerby with a past bent in his bones.
Fear shoots dread in you to share such a fate.
Years running, mentors and teachers steer
you straight from hardship (as though you could follow
the contour of their expectation.)
Then (suddenly, it seems) harsh, unspoken
pain stirs your consciousness–
(a warning whistle, a cry, a chink).
And now you, too, limp beneath the grand old elms.