When I was three, filled with the exuberance of childhood,

I ran down a dirt road in the cloud of innocence and fell.

Parents had warned me of such consequences,

of course.

Don’t run, they cried.

Don’t fall, they cried.

Useless advice against the freedom of youth

when the urge to explore is central

to the excursion of growing up.

Uncaring rocks scored my knee,

blood flowed into my sock

while a flap of flesh filled

with the grit of this unpaved path.

Scooped up by father,

cleaned by mother as best she could,

I settled into silent sobs,

unable at three to connect independence with pain,

nor to remember the shouted advice

which was wise but nonsensical

when I was three.

I wear the old scar on that knee

and it may still contain the dust from the fall,

for all I can tell,

after three-quarters of a century,

as if I needed to be reminded

of human frailty and imperfection.

Life’s expedition is hard to design.



Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry have been published in Dalhousie Review, Galway Review (Ireland), Descant (Canada), Blueline, Evansville Review, Antigonish Review, Strange Frenzies, Squawk Back, Break The Spine, Taj Mahal Review, Borderlands, and Xavier Review. He has been a social worker in California and is currently a Professor of English in New York.

Photography by Julie van der Wekken.