|Jul/Aug 2018 Poetry Special Feature|
Image courtesy of British Library Photostream
For Nothing at All
I took chill last night in the rain,
and remembered how you
would always catch cold in June.
You'd sit in your living room
on that overstuffed sofa
afghan pulled up over your nose
like the Queen of Ditmas Avenue—
exotically scented by Vicks Vapor Rub.
I remember the old black rotary phone
you used to call each of your many girlfriends
to complain of your impending doom—
so young, so young,
as your doting mother brought you tidbits
and fragile cups of peppermint tea
and your brother, Bob—my best friend—
made a perfect pest of himself.
I used to think,
Bob was put on earth to entertain.
He could sing
He could dance.
He could do all those happy things
I was no damn good at.
Before he left for Nam,
Bob borrowed the lucky silver dollar
that had seen my dad through his war.
On his last night home, I swore
it would keep him safe
and that I would look after his sister.
But, we lost Bob there, at 19,
in a war about nothing, for nothing
And Sue, the girl I worshipped,
runny nose and all
tried to teach me
to forgive myself.
But, the lessons never took.
I still hear from her
on my birthday—
it's in June.
and it makes me smile
to listen to her speak
through a wad of tissues
and a stuffed up nose—
and to picture how she tries but fails
to stifle even a single sneeze.