Back Then - a poem

Cover Image

Stop wishing you knew what you know now
back then. Back then you knew the name 
of the monster beneath your bed, and you 
knew Mr. Grumblegut (because that’s what you
named him) growled if you didn’t leave enough 
socks on your floor to fill his stomach, and though 
you may have moved on from your princess or car
bed, he did not. His belly filled with dust bunnies
you never bothered to name. His jaw is a lent trap
because of your neglect.

Back then, your insides were fleshy butterflies and 
spaghetti sauce. Your mother’s hair was rappel
rope and sham wow super soaked tear mop. Night
lights didn’t look much different than actual stars, 
though they were significantly more essential to your 
safe sleep existence. Peanut butter was holy water,
and the babysitter who lived 2 blocks from your grade
school, your pope, blessed its grape jelly unions 
as you bared witness. You were baptized in these same 
godly globs when your head got stuck in the railing 
around her staircase.

Childhood is never elegant. There is no way to walk
through it gracefully. Despite your many stumbles, 
you have acquired a wealth of knowledge through the
absence of it. 

This is what you’ve learned from not knowing before:
Faces are worth remembering.  The waitress at the deli,
the cousin’s cousin you only see at reunions, the quiet
boy in art class who only sketched grizzly bears, the 
monster beneath your bed. Each of them has given
you something. A smile, an introduction, sleeves 
covered in pencil lead dust, or a reason to hold your 
blankets more securely. They’ve presented you with 
something that only exists in a single specific, particular, 
and certain way unique to them alone. They have buried
it deep in the wells of your consciousness. Accept these 
gifts as graciously as possible.  It will better you.

Your mother is not a jungle gym, but her hair is still 
perfectly soakable, whether she is your mother, sister,
step mom, grandma, neighbor, boyfriend, or father. 
Whoever so chooses to fill this role for you, wring ‘em 
out when you must so you may pour it all on again.

Let them do the same when the need arises.

Peanut butter is still holy. 

Be glad you know now what you never did before,
however small or great it may be. Mr. Grumblegut
never forgot you.

Created: Apr 04, 2012


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