Days of Denial  
I remember the Chinese Wall as a massive tunnel,
Humped over Fifteenth Street to form an arch,
Of countless stones arranged in damp oozing rows,
Under which a fearful child walked toward daily learning.
A red brick wall by City Hall fenced in my school.
Tall climbing trees and big hiding bushes
Dotted the grand playing yard inside
Those guardian wrought iron gates
That grated me in and creaked me out.
I remember riding the green "36" trolley,
Grumbling on cobblestone-bordered tracks,
Grinding its way past smoky industrial chimneys
Huddled against smelly oil barges on the Schuylkill.
I remember when the first movie in Cinemascope
Marched across the wide screen at the Fox Theatre,
Dazzling Philadelphia audiences. Father scolded me
For returning home so late from school that night.
For squandering what money I had in my pocket.
I remember the park, four-squared by row houses,
Where children escaped life in my southwest neighborhood.
Mother and I stayed down the shore, summers,
Awaiting Father's arrival each 1940s weekend.
My winter world went not beyond the limits of the park.
My summer world searched outward toward the great Atlantic.
What did I know of savage suns swirling sardonically through
Shoreless seas of space? What did I know of silent angst,
A spiral gnawing inside me?
Copyright © 1998, 2005 Robert E. Romanelli PhD