Two Poems


I caught my last fish today,
after the stream side ceremony
by the concrete bridge
you showed me
when I was twelve.
I laid my reel aside
and bundled the bamboo rod
in equal lengths
to fit inside the fleece-lined case
you gave me
when I turned sixteen.
I remember the mottled flesh,
and the rainbow colors
smooth to the touch.
The silver torpedo sides
shining in a tropic sun
hurt even my shaded eyes.
The pebbled brooks
I waded as an adult,
rippling straight as tunnels
through pine cathedrals,
and the crystal inland lakes
are now a psalm
to be sung by a choir
before a rustic altar
where I would stop
and, with a measured four-count,
silently cast my prayers,
kneeling to light a single candle
in the sacristy
for the one that got away.
Your quiet blue lips
mouthed a silent cry
while I stood on eggshells
next to the unfamiliar bed.
Your thin legs flexed stiff
in the position of final defeat.
The cold scent of your pale skin
clung to the soiled sheets
like the quiet aftermath of a battlefield.
I stuffed your cardboard case
with rumpled clothes you’ll never wear,
picking clean the mobile stand
cluttered with your glasses
next to the dried applesauce,
and the monument of your unopened books,
\asleep like undelivered Christmas presents.
When they came to move you
to the covered steel gurney
I felt the briefest brush
of your thin fingers against mine,
as I swallowed the memory
of how you always reached for my hand
whenever we crossed the street.