“As a Royal you were always taught to maintain a buffer zone between you and the rest of Creation” – Prince Harry
I was a working class boy
from an oft-reeking neighborhood
there south of Greens Bayou
where a north wind
made us breathe rotten-egg air.
I was no royal.
But when I read the Prince’s quote today
I wondered if my mom’s childhood-induced fears
imposed a buffer zone on me
to protect me from the tough guys
whose dads ground pipes and did wiring
in local industrial plants.
Years of drinking beer sitting in the rear
I watched bar fights and felt Mom’s fear
as surely as if she’d been sitting near.
I didn’t stay in the Scouts long enough
to learn the stuff of being a man
didn’t hunt with my brother
and learn from him how to take a stand.
Now an adult, I’m sorry I wasn’t wild,
too bad I became too shy and too mild
shunned risk and danger, stayed too clear.
Was it some thin metal strand from me to my mama’s fear
that robbed me of things that make a man?
I know I learned empathy and gentleness from her
and hold not a shred of anger
for her or Dad who worked so many hours
away from that field of dreams.
I know their love saved me from violent extremes
and made me cherish God, music, and art,
tragic, as well as sensual, and exquisite scenes.
So here I sit writing
reflecting with preludes, green plants and memories.
Harry, Prince the Duke of Sussex, Spare, Random House, 2023, p. 54
Greens Bayou and the ship channel were largely responsible for the early industrial boom that made Houston, Texas one of the largest cities in the South. The paper mill there emitted the foul rotten egg pollution that often settled on Pasadena where I grew up. BTW many folks called it stinkadena.