A    NARROW    FELLOW

The Art of Poetry

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BEFORE SPEECH (PLAYGROUND POEM)

“Will they share?” the child
doesn’t ask, because the child
has no words yet, just
a long look that’s broken off
when a game of tag veers close
and knocks him to the sawdust
though the fall is small and
he barely notices, returning his
stare to the other little boys
on the slide who laugh
and scream. And speak.
So he stays seated in his locked
chamber listening to sounds
slip in and out of shapes
he recognizes but can’t repeat,
children orbiting like atoms,
his silence a tight nucleus
beginning to vibrate.
He is wondering if they’ll share.

- by James Harms