Kenneth Patchen

(13 December 1911 - 8 January 1972 / Ohio)

When We Were Here Together


when we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one
another.
A bit of grass held between the teeth for a moment, bright hair on the
wind.
What we were we did not know, nor even the grass or the flame of
hair turning to ash on the wind.
But they lied about that. From the beginning they lied. To the child,
telling him that there was somewhere anger against him, and a
hatred against him, and the only reason for his being in the
world.
But never did they tell him that the only evil and danger was in
themselves; that they alone were the prisoners and the betrayers;
that they - they alone - were responsible for what was being done
in the world.
And they told the child to starve and to kill the child that was within
him; for only by doing this could he become a useful and adjusted
member of the community which they had prepared for him.
And this time, alas, they did not lie.
And with the death of the child was born a thing that had neither
the character of a man nor the character of a child, but was a
horrible and monstrous parody of the two; and it is in this world
now that the flesh of man’s spirit lies twisted and despoiled under
the indifferent stars.
When we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one
another.
O green the bit of warm grass between our teeth. O beautiful the hair
of our mortal goddess on the indifferent wind.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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