The Little Boy

An old man of the mountains traveled into town one day

to find a little boy he knew but lost along the way.

The lines of rugged living lay like furrows on his face,

and tears plowed through those dusty rows to clear the way for Grace.

Some say it was poor choices, some say disease or fate

that drove him up that stony road and shut away the gate.

I say, for sanctuary, the elder sought repose

beneath a verdant canopy where mountain laurel grows.

And in the spirit of an ancient spring-fed, sparkling stream

his thirsty soul drew sustenance, and Heaven was his dream.

Though weary from the wayward ways embarked upon in youth,

a wisdom gained in wandering had etched his stone with truth.

But broken years still left for him a longing so profound

to muster all remaining will and walk familiar ground.

So with his only trapping, an old heart that longed for home

and bygone days of innocence burned by the urge to roam,

he limped along toward the gate he’d fastened long ago

to wall away his brokenness the world could never know.

That day he walked on Holy Ground: a churchyard near a grave,

a grassy spot beneath an oak that “progress” chose to save,

the playground where, in fantasy, he’d whiled away his time,

the schoolyard where a snow-capped dame

had taught his lines to rhyme,

the lot upon which stood the timbers of his childhood home

(a mansion in his memory, with ivy overgrown),

his double-secret hideaway: a fort for all the boys

who’d bravely fought marauding bands and shared in manly joys.

And as the sun was sinking down behind his mountain wall,

he passed the spot where love’s first kiss had bade its beckon call.

And there amidst the shadows of the lives he’d loved before,

an old man thought he heard again from just beyond a door

the voice of Mama calling home a little boy he knew,

for supper and serenity, for warmth and welcome, too.

Then mourning something of himself while passing by a grave,

he clasped the little hand of one he’d left those hills to save.

Together there, old man and boy, in unity, made whole,

began the upward trek to where a mountain meets a soul.

And after lifting up the latch that locked away the gate,

the care-free boy left it ajar, as time was ticking late.

Each ray of sinking sunset left its hue upon that place.

Each dusty tear upon the cheek had cleared the way for Grace.

And then the old man, with his boy, fell peacefully to rest:

the balm applied for broken life, Bright Canaan for the blest.

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