How I Want to Hold My Younger Self

I see the shame beneath your skin,
tensing your small frame and dropping you into a pool
the color of a night sky that has lost its moon.

You were just a boy, and I don’t blame you
for staying beneath the water.
There, quiet felt like peace.

During the day, I see you walking the halls.
You navigate a thread
so small it’s practically invisible,
the line between what you feel and what you can say
pushing up a jagged wall everywhere you tread.

I want to save you when I see you
clinging to a tiny tree root on the edge of a dusty canyon,
holding on with all the might an 11-year-old can muster.

But I can’t. I can only
dream of the day you are strong enough to climb out.

You were just a boy,
you were just a boy,
you were just a boy.

Who will hold you, my sweet boy?

Head and shoulders photo of the writer Phil Goldstein standing in front of a brick wall.

Phil Goldstein is a poet, journalist and content marketer who has been living in the Washington, D.C., area for a dozen years. His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Ideate ReviewIn ParenthesesAwakened VoicesAmethyst Review, The Galway ReviewOctober Hill MagazineConstellations, Rust + MothThe Loch Raven Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal and Qwerty Magazine. His debut poetry collection, “How to Bury a Boy at Sea,” forthcoming from Stillhouse Press, explores the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and the difficult journey to healing that men face. By day, he works as a senior editor for a content marketing agency, writing about government technology. He currently lives in Alexandria, Va., with his fiancé, Jenny, and their animals: a dog named Brenna, and two cats, Grady and Princess.

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