Douglas Luman considers boyhood and the difficulties of growing up in this “sourced poem.”
Once, a trained starling could speak some words. It said here I am.
Then, everything was dull & silent, as it is sometimes when we
wake in the nighttime. When the boy tried, everyone became very
angry & shouted you’re a fool.
Of course, then there was no boy would make a sound. As one
talks to the pine woods, so will the pine woods respond.
This is the face of a boy. It has a nose. It has a chin. It has two
eyes. Is this a man. No, this is a boy. Am I a man. No, I am not a
I do not know this boy. I have no name for him. When I am a man
I can have one, but a boy can’t; so, I must wait until I am grown
I look at my body. I know the meaning of the word without a book;
everyone is so fond of using it.
It seems to mean who are you; no one can see you.
But, I can see myself & I do not wish to.
Have you ever thought about what you are made of: the hide or
skin of a beast; small nails of iron dug from the earth; strips of
rubber, a gum that runs from a tree; sand & other things.
I thought I was made from bone.
Text adapted from:
Hillard, George Stillman. The Franklin Primer, Or, First Reader. New York: Taintor Bros., Merrill , 1878.
—-. The Franklin Second Reader. New York: Taintor Bros., Merrill , 1878.
—-. The Franklin Third Reader. New York: Taintor Bros., Merrill , 1878.
—-. The Franklin Fourth Reader. New York: Taintor Bros., Merrill , 1878.
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