Friday, July 9, 2010

After Life

Coming home from work yesterday,
I saw a 1966 Chevy station wagon in someone’s yard,
with a for sale sign propped up in the windshield
Even though a familiar pair of hands grabbed each of my shoulders and attempted to point me toward the yard sale just up the street, I stopped anyway.
The closer I came to the car, the more quickly the trim began to unravel.
The pale green paint and the un polished chrome around the windows,
Began to pull away, and twist into the bottom weave of flower baskets
lying in a pile on a grave

The last time I saw my brother alive
he was looking at me through the rear view mirror of our Impala wagon.
I have tried to forget the day of his suicide
And anything to do with the time
packing everything up all at once.
I was only 13
and anxious to become an old man
who wanders around folding tables at garage sales
picking through broken pieces of power tools
not to see if they actually worked,
but to wonder if I can fix them.
This was the last place
I could’ve imagined he was talking about,
When he promised,
he’d see me again.

I was on my sister’s bike coming down the dirt road
when I spotted him coming the other way in our willow green wagon.
Big smile on his face, he slowed down,
I slowed down
and we had our last talk together.
Precious boy,
if only I had known
I would never again hear your voice,
when you lied to me and said,
I was your little buddy and we’ll do something together.
If only I had known,
You were talking about a garage sale decades later
where I would be listening to your voice
through the glass of a rolled up window.
Staring through the eye holes in a Halloween mask
of a scary old man with hairy eyebrows.
If only I had known,
I would never again see a pack of Winston’s rolled up in the sleeve of your T-shirt
and the way your palm splayed over the roll of the steering wheel.
When you pulled the stick shift out of first, put the car in neutral
and revved the engine just enough to impress me.
I was impressed.
“You’ll get yer license too Kenny in a couple of years, then we ‘re gonna go over there to Martin’s
And get us a pit pass. Just you and me.”
Big fat liar.
You reached out of the window and touched my shoulder.
And I have loved the smell of gasoline ever since.
As you slowly drove away
The tips of your fingers lifted from me
And your arm folded inward like an un feathered wing and became an elbow in the window

And then it happened
You looked at me in the rear view mirror, reached up and adjusted it to get a better view
And I saw the crinkles in the corners of your eyes.
Souvenir smile.
More treasured than a night full of stars.
And in the hours that followed
when whatever happened to change this moment,
into a .22
and your blood
and crying
and unbearable things
I can only mention to God,
I knew
for a least a few seconds
On your last day of life
driving west on Dewey Lake street
you were happy
because of me.

3 comments:

LoveLady said...

So powerful...and painful...and so well written! Your poetry is never boring and always beautiful, nomatter what the subject is about. Please write more!

Jennifer Valentine said...

Dear man, love of my life;
how tender you are.
How does one who has been
so broken,
tend to the brokenness
in the world...?

How profoundly aware I am
of how fortunate it is
to know you. To love you,
and be loved
by you.

Linda Jacobs said...

I love your natural voice. This poem brought a lump to my throat. "And your arm folded inward like an un feathered wing" is a beautiful line. And I love the smile more precious than the stars.