The shutter catches the reedy boy and his size 44 pants dancing around his hips,
the click of metallic and plastic and synchronization
familiar in my ear, under my finger. But after he is gone, really gone,
and I have processed all of the old rolls of film, every one, I cannot find
him and his pants, the belt and the way the sun leaked through the window,
spilling onto one shoulder, like butter on the cast iron black of his T-shirt.

Up under my breastbone where the acid now lodges some mid-nights,
I carry all the other non-photos:

his slouch…

his barely brushed teeth…

his fingers resting on the rim of the crystal goblet he told me
he wanted when I died—I don’t know what to do with it now…

his singing, low in his throat…

his bony knees bent under his chest in sleep while the snow falls
onto the world beyond: layers of water and silt and rock: nothing I can do
will hurry him or promise me I can reach through the window…

his words flying up, out of his mouth, telling stories (of cars and
baseball and ocean in the early morning)…

his hand loose on my sweatered shoulder, his heart beating against my back…

his hip slung out to the side, fragile in the cracked light, denying
he had stolen the five watches, all the while eying
the raspberry Danish with its red-seeded center on the kitchen table…

his coaly eyes focused on me, insisting
I hold on: don’t turn away, this is not a dare, pass the test,
please pass the test, no matter how tough I make the ride.

Diner Award for Poetry

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