Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Stephen Dobyns: Wisdom

With the door shut the child sat in the closet 
with his fingers pressed in his ears. Tell me 
the truth, wasn’t it wisdom? Hadn’t he had
                        
a sudden insight into the nature of the world? 
One time my stepson in third grade stopped
taking tests. His reason? If you take one test, 
 
they only give you another. Better call a halt 
right now. He had caught on to the grown-ups’ 
stratagem to drag him into adulthood. What
 
was in it for him? he asked. Nothing nice.
Likewise the boy in the closet had become 
temporarily resistant to the blandishments
 
of the world. Two hours later, his own body 
turned against him and he crept downstairs
to dinner. But when his parents pointed out 
 
the joys of growing up, he remained in doubt.
Who knew how the thought had come to him?
TV, a friend’s chatter? Perhaps he had seen 
 
a picture of a conveyor belt. Click, click—
so he’d go through life until he was dumped 
on a trash heap. Or perhaps he had deduced
 
what he was leaving behind, the shift from
innocence to consequence, from protection 
to fragility. Fortunately, stories like the boy 
 
shutting himself up in the closet are scarce,
and his parents joked about it to their friends. 
By now, I don’t know, he’s on his second or 
 
third marriage, has a job that’s made him rich,
but that time in the closet, five years old and
calculating what life was destined to deal out,
 
how different it must have seemed from what
he had ever imagined, so he made his decision
and crept into the closet, wasn’t it wisdom? 

“Wisdom” from The Day’s Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper Beech, copyright 2016 by Stephen Dobyns, BOA Editions, Ltd.

2 comments on “Stephen Dobyns: Wisdom

  1. Barbara Huntington
    January 14, 2021

    A perfect poem to arrive after morning meditation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. russell buker
    January 14, 2021

    Love this as when all of us are programmed towards intelligence

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2021 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , , .

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