Dirty Pockets

 

Erwin Wiens

 

It happens often, when you’re just a boy.

You forget what’s in them. Unthinking

you plunge your hand down

to the very bottom. Something moist, and sticky.

Then you remember.

Ugh.

 

When you’re only four feet tall

your pockets are close to the ground, so dirt gets in.

Also cookie crumbs and gooey candies,

a rabbit’s foot attached to a piece of shoe string,

not to mention other treasures, some of them

unmentionable.

 

Like the wad of chewing gum you were saving for later,

the shrivelled mouse that a cat killed

that you planned to hide in the toe

of your sister’s shoe.

The robin’s egg you stole from the nest

just to be cruel.

 

Normally they’re not a hindrance, dirty pockets.

They don’t weigh you down, running or jumping,

Or just standing tall.

They don’t impair your balance

and cause you to fall

flat on your face.

 

But even for a boy there comes a day when they

become a burden. Time to clean house,

turn ’em inside out and give ’em a good shake.

There. Gone.

Now the boy can start all over

with clean pockets.

When he’s a grown man it won’t be that easy.

 

Erwin Wiens lives on Besserer St. in Sandy Hill

 

This poem has appeared  in Queen’s Quarterly and Bridges: An Ottawa Anthology. Print copies of the latter may be ordered from Ronald P. Frye & Co.: www.ronaldpfrye.com/shop/bridges-an-ottawa-anthology/

Illustration Dawna Moore