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The Guard


His words clutched like a drowning man's embrace

Those nights he spilled his secrets on my porch.

I helped him sort them, find each fear a place

Within the sanctuary of his church,

Others' opinions. Crying at times, he swore

I was the only person he could trust.

I reassured him that his private war

Was safe between us, and that problems must

Deliver change. On that score I was right:

By winter he'd stopped calling, and I heard

Through mutual friends that he took great delight

In quoting me for laughs. And yet I guard

His secrets, rocking on my porch alone,

Each hour imagining I hear the phone.


Jeff Holt



2001; originally printed in the Formalist.  Reprinted
by permission of the author.

Background by
Karen S. Nicholas

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