You showed up with your siblings.
We’d never seen anything like you.
You who walked among us like Achilles
through camps of grimy, plundering soldiers.
Chiseled cheek bones strong and lean physique
as if ready to take on the world,
Or run as far from it as you could at a moment’s notice.
And you had this way about you.
This throwback to another era kind of cool,
a cross between James Dean and John Wayne.
I thought for sure you were on your way up
and I loved you instantly.
We all did, knowing full well that greatness like yours
is a once in a lifetime occurrence to behold.
Those times we spent together roaming our town,
rummaging through places that were usually locked
yet were somehow unlocked just for us,
talking for hours, with an ease only we had.
A bond others envied, mocked through clenched jaws.
How that one time you told me through tears
about that night you spent in Dorothea Dix Hospital
and how you knew then that the un-mad
have no way to treat the mad.
That there are only pills, mountains and mountains of pills.
And you were sure you’d have to spend your life pretending.
That we’d all have to pretend the best we could.
How we’d always keep track of each other.
Over years, over all the things that seemed insurmountable,
though I can’t for the life of me pin point what those were.
And only once we dared talk about what our love might be,
but we never kissed. No we never kissed.
And I went to Missouri to seek God, education,
all the right things I knew a good girl should.
You went to Florida to run from God, education,
all the things you knew would define a good boy,
but I never forgot, no matter how I tried
to lay you to rest in this head of mine oh, a million times at least.
And the last time we spoke I cried telling you
how I wished I’d have gotten in your car that day.
That day you came to give me the book of poems and
say your goodbyes.
And you replied there would definitely have been a seat for me,
and we laughed and I knew then we’d never speak again.
Because I was married and you were never to be married.
Our time, that had not seen the light of day, had also passed,
pulled like burning, fraying rope through indecisive fingers.
That I would only be left with these mythical memories of you,
the ones I push down every time I smell someone
smoking those Marlboro lights you loved to light,
then breathe in slowly as if even inhaling poison was an art itself.
The last night I dreamed about you I shot up in bed,
reached for my phone, looked you up online,
even though I knew what it would say. I knew what it would say…
To this day, when you visit my sleep, I do it all over again
just to re-read that trite ancestry.com obituary.
The one that doesn’t say anything of the miraculous god
who walked among us, laid claim to our overworked Southern soils,
or about how you died, but I know.
Anyone who knew you as well as I did, knows how it happened.
We’re all at fault. Each and every one accountable.
We all took part, killed you.
Though not by any singular act, mind you.
Yes, this whole damn world, murdered you slowly,
one negligent, mundane day at a time.