When Emily Dickinson wrote “A loss of something ever felt I — ” she gave voice to pain locked in the heart of every abused child. Outright sexual or physical abuse and the equally harmful slippery realm of sarcasm, insult and neglect. Or, chronic disharmony.

A loss of something ever felt I –
The first that I could recollect
Bereft I was – of what I knew not
Too young that any should suspect

A Mourner walked among the children
I notwithstanding went about
As one bemoaning a Dominion
Itself the only Prince cast out —

Elder, Today, a session wiser,
And fainter, too, as Wiseness is —
I find Myself still softly searching
For my Delinguent Palaces –

And a Suspicion, like a Finger
Touches my Forehead now and then
That I am looking oppositely
For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven –

It will not be until it is too late that “The first that I could recollect” can be given a word, “Bereft”, bereaved. Experienced as loneliness, not from physical isolation, but from inarticulate feelings.

But, youth itself betrays the young. Childhood’s pastimes amid family disharmony that may be no one’s fault conspire to seal him in an unsolicitous inner world. Then, “too young that any should suspect / A Mourner walked among the children”. As an adult I’ve come to recognize physical symptoms of too much solitude. Lack of energy is the most obvious. But, childhood’s energy “.. not withstanding went about”. Adults only see a busy child.

Ah! if only the tiny sorrowful could pronounce, “As one bemoaning a Dominion”. If attempted, what comes out is whining. The reward, “Itself the only Prince cast out”.

The poem is written from the only vantage point that allows such insights: “Elder, Today, a session wiser”. Unable, like the child with his preordained rambunctiousness to cover up his “softly searching” for palaces of love from others and a connected wholeness. 

Now grownup, I begin to realize that to look to others “For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven”, for perfect peace, is itself a childish endeavor. “And a Suspicion, like a Finger” of one I am now capable of perceiving as tender, patient and kind, begins a dialogue.

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way