Being a Child         

 "It's a very lonely thing being a child."  Harry Truman

I never told Mother
about the boys at school
who tormented me daily,
passed my germs on in cruel games,
and called me names. 
Enough of grief already peeked
from behind her skirts. 
Some craving pushed me
to implore her to express
my unknown sorrows in song. 
A thousand times I begged her,
“Sing The Letter Edged in Black,”
came face to face with inner death,
weeping as she sang.
A thousand times I urged her sing a tune
full of longing to return to "dear old Dad."
How could I miss the sound of a voice
I'd heard only once since I was two?
Or the song of the whippoorwill,
which I wouldn’t have recognized
had it come through my windows?
There was a mask I wore,
a game I played alone,
hiding sorrows I sensed
but could not understand.
I do not know how Mother felt,
or if she knew there was a hole in me
that could be filled only
by her melancholy songs.

—Wilda Morris, Bolingbrook, IL