Grown up

All cherub cheeks he was, too,
our lost little boy, the hero,
brave to try but broken to learn
that a button on a controller
was not a hip swing out on the slopes.
Can you remember it, son?
White, white snow beneath great green conifers
and the sky as blue as dreams, but softer;
the deep, deep air so full of ever and forever?

He’s gone now, you know.
Lost he was, out there, under an avalanche of words—
some true, most not—yet all of them excuses
that still echo down their cold, slippery trails.
It was, I suppose, failures in happanstance—
some simple, most not—but I find myself
wondering, just the same, how it would have
turned out had he stuck it out
and learned to snowboard that day.
Would any other dream have been softer?


Thank you for reading Grown up. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken of some poor hapless soul on a slope in New Hampshire just as he was wiping out, “having a garage sale” as the joke goes. (You wipe out so bad that all your equipment goes hither and yon and you can’t be bothered to go fetch it. Let anyone who makes an offer have it.) To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.


Filed under Poetry

6 responses to “Grown up

  1. Barbara Minor

    Thanx John, for this lovely and sad poem. So much in the world has run way past us, to where we can’t even hear it anymore. We wonder if standing on top of the hill is better, or even down in the valley. What is it that our grown children’s children think about the increasing sound of a never fading instant information.

    • Barbara,

      Thank you so much, dear. As I get older there is much I no longer want to hear, and more that I can no longer bear to hear. Is that what “tired” really is? Something not fixed by a nap? Well, such is life, I suppose.

      – j

  2. Lyn Tolar

    very touching


  3. You do live by your name, Book of Pain, don’t you? I was mesmerized by your words — Lost he was, out there, under an avalanche of words.

    Amazzzzzing! I may have to borrow that line one day and link it back to you. So good. Thank you.

    • Thank you! That is a lovely and very kind comment. I have been enjoying your site too, especially with its nuanced sense of double entendre in every poem! 🙂

      As to re-using the line, be my guest! I’d be honored.