Excerpt #99, Rocking-Chair Moon

MOVING ON
(Spring 2007 and Beyond)

Critique
—Carly

Katie is definitely a step up
from Lisa and Tess,
I have to admit—she has prospects,
and smart green eyes
that aren’t afraid to meet mine,
and hair and clothes that tell me
she’s comfortable with herself,

but I guess I was hoping for someone
who had most of that plus an appreciation
for what a catch Ben is, and as I watch them
together, and her especially, I don’t see that,
I see cool instead of hot,
a one-way relationship, mostly,

him willing to give, her willing to take,
and for some reason I remember Ben
at Dad’s funeral, dry-eyed, empty,
bogeyman-haunted, still standing
because there wasn’t an alternative,
and I want to tell her to let him down now,
and gently.

 

Rumor
—Carly

The rumor’s true, Megan says
without my asking
as we stand in line at the late-night Starbucks
and she pulls out her wallet and says with
a proud mother’s smile,

And his name’s Ethan,

and she shows me his photo and I see
the light in his eyes
and the life in his smile and find myself
searching the picture for evidence of a halo,
or wings, or a shaft of radiance through
the broken clouds above his head,

and I forget about feeling sorry for her
and mumble something about him being
a future heartbreaker and Megan says she’s
already had one of those and she’d rather
Ethan turn out like her dad,
steady and true-blue and warm,
and I picture my dad

with a halo and wings and
a shaft of radiance,
not a dark, narrow home
under six feet of cold dirt.

 

Airport
—Ben

Katie offered (yeah, Carly, halfheartedly)
to enroll at Montana
if she could do that this late in the game,
and I was tempted to tell her to go for it,

but I couldn’t ask her to turn her back
on Stanford and its promise,
and besides her parents
would probably kill her (and me),
so here we are at the airport—
Katie, her mom, and the boyfriend,

waiting on the noon flight to Oakland,
and as we reach the security
point-of-no-return
Katie leans over the rope
and gives me a fast hug

and hurries on, anticipation and excitement
—not loss and sadness—
quick-stepping along beside her.

 

Get Lost
—Ben

A mile from the house
I catch up to Mr. Felder
jogging along the shoulder,
alone, no Sam anymore,
and I slow to his pace for a while
but we run out of things to say
and he tells me to get lost
in a nice sort of way,

because he doesn’t want
to feel responsible for holding me back,
and I accelerate, listening to the sounds
of his footfalls and breathing fade away
like that time with Dad on the beach
near Haystack Rock, and then I’m alone,
cutting over to our trail through the woods,

where I don’t have to worry about
what’s behind me or ahead of me,
I just gulp the cool air
and think about the fragrant green stuff
all around and the boughs and sky overhead
and the path of wet bark and needles
and the effortless, painless, joyful task
of putting one foot in front of the other.

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