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.
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
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.
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/