Four and a Half

I read this poem by New England poet John Holmes while riding the N Train.

It’s called Four and a Half.

The griefs of a little boy are forever.
His rages are a death-blow given.
In his throat and eyes the loneliness
Of a small boy is a weather-driven
Ache. Joy in a little boy
Is a handbell whirled and ringing.
His delight makes more delight.
Growing, greeting, gathering,
A little boy invents amazing words
For the world. The name of never
Is not one. And watch his eyes.
He knows a humming world-forever
Word but cannot say it yet.

The labors of a little boy are all
In carrying something somewhere else,
And back, and reaching to be tall
His afternoons and evenings are
Thrust forward against sleep as far
As ingenious eagerness can go.
His mornings never end.
Under skies that never bend
He asks to see, and help, and know.
He dabbles noise and water. Tries
The world’s worth by running on
Its grass hard. Trusts. And has not
Time to ask why yesterday is gone.

2 thoughts on “Four and a Half

  1. The grief of a father
    For the loss of his son
    Is worse than the howling wind
    Of an unstoppable hurricane.

    There is a certain comfort in death
    In knowing that one has returned to the creator.
    It is the unknown and missing
    That is worse than death.

    The longing to be with;
    The “if only we had one more day”
    The unbearable uncertainty of aloneness
    With only a two-dimensional pictorial reminder.

    And the fluidity of memory
    Plays tricks on the emotions
    The ghost of the missing one
    A glimpse on a passing subway.

    And yet, the father never stops loving.
    Never stops searching.
    Never stops knowing he will find his son.
    To do so would mean death for them both.


    Liked by 1 person

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