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?
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 Review, In Parentheses, Awakened Voices, Amethyst Review, The Galway Review, October Hill Magazine, Constellations, Rust + Moth, The 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.