The Friend

A poem for my children
by James R. Muri

Written when times were a little tougher than they are now . . .

There was a child who lived in a large and crowded house
With other kids, a mother, and a cat and a mouse.
And other members of the group, so many or even more
That some had to sleep upon the crowded floor.

But this child got to sleep upon a featherbed,
Oft alone but often not, sometimes it is said.
And often he would try to sleep or at least to take a snooze,
But couldn't do either 'cause his eyes wouldn't close.

This child had a Friend who understood it all
And was wise, and kind and never yelled or stalled.
When asked a question this Friend would always answer true,
The kind of Friend we all need, for me and for you.

The Friend would perch there, at the foot of the bed
When the child had troubles running through his head.
And only then would appear in the dark of the night
To help alleviate the fear and the fright.

And answer many questions with his wisdom and his charm
So that the child would know he'd come to no harm.
But the answers weren't always nice to hear or to say
And the child would be troubled sometimes into day.

The child learned he could talk with his Friend
Any time he had troubles running through his mind.
Staring at the ceiling, waiting for the sleep,
With troubles on his mind, his Friend was at his feet.

"Why am I so different than Joe across the way?
With a family and friends and new toys with which to play?
And Sunday Brunch and a bike and Mom and Dad at home
And all I've got is this crowd and nothing of my own?"

"Things are what they are, my child," the Friend spoke with care,
"Because they were what they were 'ere they 'came what they are.
The truth today is only that the past is living still
As today tomorrow will be past, and tomorrow's bitter pill."

"That sounds like a riddle," the child scoffed and joked,
"Or a silly bunch of nonsense you stupidly invoked."
"Why should not the past be past and ever ever done,
And today pure and shining as the golden rising sun?"

"And why should not things be the way that they should be,
As the leaves turn green in springtime on every living tree?
If I were king or the boss or the leader of the band,
I would make everything much better for the children of the land."

"And a great world it would be, 'tis true," the Friend smiled and said,
"And every boy and every girl would have their own feather bed.
And two parents and a dog who loved and lived at home,
And a house and a school and no need for this poem."

"But the world is the world, and the things that can change,
Must be changed when they can be best rearranged.
And you must know what you can change and when it is best
To try and make a change, or get it off your chest."

"And know that some things can never, ever change
I know that it's sad, and puzzling and strange.
Good intentions alone cannot possibly suffice
To fix a life that's been torn with tears and with strife."

"But caring and loving and knowing you are loved
Is most of what's important on this Earth or above.
Then from there we humans fix what things that we break,
When we can, if we can, through some give and some take."

"Still a riddle, like I said," the child sadly mourned,
"No answer to my question have you logically formed."
"Not so, good child, " the Friend so quickly pointed out,
"You fix what you can and the rest you do without."

"And if you want tomorrows better than today,
Make today the best day of every single day
Every day, every way, you fix what you can
Until they come and wrap you up and put you in the sand."

"And if you do that you'll be loved and praised by all
As a person much admired for standing straight and tall
In the midst of strife and scorn and poverty and ill,
A shining light and beacon like a crown upon a hill."

"It isn't easy, what you say, " the child grumbled back,
"When people yell and cuss and fling bric-a-brac.
Anger and tears and sadness and scorn
Make it hard to imagine a crown, except of thorn."

"Crowns are what you make them," the Friend finally said,
"You are the craftsman of your own, make it for your head.
Wear it every day, whichever one you choose,
Of rainbows or thorns, you can win or you can lose."

"But if thorns adorn your head and you carry them around
No one will want you near them be you humble or proud.
Because thorns cause pain for you and those you love
And exact a price too precious in tears and in blood."

"So brighten up and choose a rainbow for your brow,
Even though things are hard and the row is tough to hoe.
You family loves you even though sometimes it seems
They don't listen to you or understand your dreams."

"The years will pass both swiftly and long,
And your parents will weep one day when they see you are gone.
And they'll weep when they think of the time they have lost
With you their child that they loved and will weep at the cost."

"Cost? Cost of what?" The child wondered loud,
"There's no cost for what they do, for the grey upon the cloud."
"Au Contraire, Silly Child, " the Friend replied with a frown,
"The cost is lost time between now and when you're grown."

"For it's easy to let an hour or a day
Or a week or a month or a year slip away.
Help them see you won't always be this cute and so young
That's it's time to climb the ladder by touching every rung."

"Why is it, Friend, you tell me these things that are so clear?
That need to be told to another's older ear?
Can you find a way, I hope, to let my parents know?"
"Ah, yes," said the Friend, "If they can hear, that's what I'll do."

So the child lay awake upon his featherbed
Words of his friend running through his head.
And a smile to his lips came but never went,
At the thought that maybe the message had been sent.

Copyright, 1996 by James R. Muri

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