new poems

FRIEND

There is no crueler arena

than Childhood.

My attempt to help my friend

left me as far on the

outside as she was.

She lost control

of her bowels at school,

one of the greatest fears

of Childhood,

exposing

some weakness,

knowing the predators

at the edge of the herd

would pick us off.

I helped her out of the

great laughing crowd

in the schoolyard

and stayed with her in

the sickly green vastness

of the bathroom.

I stood outside the stall

where she cried,

passing wet paper towels

under the door.

Somewhere between

the dust and dirt

of recess

and the cold echoing sobs,

small, fierce vows

leaped the chasm between

her head and mine.

I lived afterward with

the horror of my secret,

would there ever be

anyone to sit with

me in the

cold green bathroom,

and risk

Eternity on the Outside?

======     =-=-=-

DRIVING

I checked the oil,

the air in almost-new tires.

My gas gauge pushed the F

and my windows sparkled.

The passenger seat held

an assortment of books on tape

and a notebook .

Backing down the drive I

breathed in the moist

air of dawn and

smiled at the wake-up

songs of cardinals.

I drove down the highway

that connects my house

to the house 100 miles away,

hoping, again, I will

find the person I lost

So long ago.

If I pack more carefully,

drive slower or faster

maybe I can find

that bend in the road

that takes me back.

When she still breathed

the same clammy air

at five in the morning

that I breathe now.

Breathing and talking and laughing

maybe if I time it just right,

I can reach her

before she’s gone

and ask her the questions

that propel me out the door,

and down the highway

over and over again.

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