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September 18, 2023


By Vern Fein


He was the most broken boy at the Home,
sexualized in his childhood.
He had to have someone with him
at every minute, except when he was sleeping.
He could sleep alone.
He could never be alone with a woman.
Once, when he first came and we did not believe,
a pert, blonde intern took him to the bathroom.
Going up the stairs, he smashed her against the wall,
groped her till she screamed,
only had males with him from then on.

He loved Harry Potter,
would volunteer to read about that wizard boy,
pout and act out when it was someone else's turn.
He would do no other school work,
except for the bribe I concocted,
being his main teacher and knowing
that special ed meant all reasonable tactics.

I found out he loved cheese, not to eat,
as he only picked at his cafeteria food,
never asked for cheese.
Students were rewarded with supervised
Internet time for doing their work.
Once when he did an assignment,
I asked him what he liked best.
He said cheeses. Not cheese, but cheeses.

For his reward Otto chose to view
hundreds of cheese types in the world.
Although we supervised him, we needn’t.
For that rare time of peace, he would click on
one cheese after another—Cheddar, Colby, Edam,
Emmenthal, Gouda, Parmigiana—
preferring yellow ones,
ogle the pictures and descriptions of them
as if…
fight us when his computer time was over,
sometimes hugging the machine
as if...

He was with us for a short time,
bound for the one state facility
that attempts healing of these kids,
with little success,
abused, in his case, by both men and women,
his record read.

I have never been able to linger at the cheese case
or view pictures of voluptuous cheeses
as they appear in magazines
without remembering Otto.

I wish I were in a world
where something so delicious
like an edible sun
could heal a hurting boy,
understand why such perversity
is in our universe.

Article © Vern Fein. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-07-31
Image(s) are public domain.
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