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SHAVINGS, by                    
First Line: Furtive as those condemned to dwell
Last Line: To pace the narrow city blocks.
Subject(s): Prisons & Prisoners; Youth; Convicts

FURTIVE as those condemned to dwell
Behind such doors as iron locks,
Men pace the narrow city blocks
Each cringing in his cell,
Where even the sound of grim footfalls
Is caught and beaten back by walls.

The desperate man who half escapes
To that half freedom called a park,
Like some marauder in the dark,
Hastes with uncertain steps
Beside a river, steel-bridge-barred,
Water made grim by walls, and hard.

He sees a narrow plane of light
Carve from the water sunbeam chips;
Shavings of day-dust float like ships
Flashing with gold and white.
He laughs to see the fancied fleet
Drift toward the landing at his feet.

Once a knife flashed, and shavings strewed
A shipyard; where, bare-ankle-deep,
Boys waded through a yellow heap
Of flaked and powdered wood.
The air gleamed thick with dusty motes,
Fragrant with all the smells of boats.

Clouds swing across the light of day,
Close their grey doors against the skies:
The fire upon the water dies;
The chips are ashen grey.
The dreamer gropes. His fingers feel
The river fence, the bars of steel.

Behind such doors as iron locks
Childhood itself has gone to dwell.
He turns again to face the cell,
To pace the narrow city blocks.

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