At first I was overjoyed
to be assigned a room
near the dormitory library
where dwelt old books
waiting to leap into my mind.

Before the first night there,
I saw nothing in darkness:
I trusted its hands
to massage sleep onto me.

But that night some boy
hurled a factheavy volume
of The Book of Knowledge
at my sleeping head.

Thus began my education,
boys scrambling in the darkness
between shelves of ammunition
and hurling warheads
of knowledge tearing my pillow helmet.

I stumbled out of the rubble
and sought for light
from the housefather's desk.

Weeping clear blood
from my wounded eyes,
I pleaded with him to stop them
or let me go home.

"You can run, run, run,"
he told me after returning
from the boys' darkness,
his eyes soft, softer
than the softness of all things
seen through my eyes,
"but you cannot run away."

From my housefather's knowledge
I gathered that the boys
feared and attacked whatever
they did not understand,
this a lowly testament
of human nature.

Back in my room, I lay
halfawake, wondering
how they were supposed to see
me clearly if my vision
of myself, as of all things . . .

When the next morning a boy
waved his mocking hand
near my bruised face,
I balled my new knowledge
into a fist, and then I was seen
bright as day.

-- John Lee Clark

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