St. Xavier's Charity Home


At night the clicking in the hall
resounds the heels
of those whose call
matters most:
Who's beck, who's whims
decide our fate,
and stretch the world
end to end
when we are small,
and huddled here in darkness.


At daybreak's first and freshest light,
in noisy earnest, loud and laughing,
we set upon our forenoon chores-the rabbits and the chickens,
spill in legion from their pens, out upon the clover lawn,
for this, their precious golden hour,
orphans all, like we who tend them-destined for the table.
They hop and strut and unattended,
wander to the weathered path,
to scratch and feed and sniff the air,
and mark the hour in twitches.


At visiting hour the lucky kids,
whose aunts and cousins come to call,
are excused, one and all,
and vanish to the playground.
We who stay complete our chores,
then like the Lost Boys who live in Never,
the time our own, go pirating among the pines.
There we seek isles of treasure,
and capture sprites
whose wont it is, when day is gone,
to sing their songs to the man in the moon
and drop jewels
in the green garden spider's web
when night gives way to dawn.


Tommy Binks drowned at noon, at dusk
his pale and glistening body,
hooked and dragged from swampish reeds
and pulled into the shallows.
Sheriff Griffers stood and wrote,
fumbling with his flashlight,
something quite important
in a notebook from his pocket...
While we small and timid few,
gathered at the window bay,
watched approaching night and whispered,
"I knew Tommy, ain't it strange?"
..Tomorrow morning, we'll parade
Through a chapel filled with flowers,
We will sing "Abide With Me"
And have a sermon on willful children
who swim where angels fear to wade,
and pray for many hours.


And night again,
and in our beds,
the clicking in the hall,
resounds the heels of
those whose whims
decide it all,
and span the world end to end
while we are small,
and huddled here
against the time,
we don't ask much,
just this: Be kind.

2002 Lannie Baylor.  All rights reserved. 


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