Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Best Friend at 12

I never did get to say goodbye 
to my best friend in the coal mining camp 
who did live across the street from me.  

This friend,—

for whom I gave my life at the Alamo, and 
with whom I played in the ’53 World Series, and
beside whom I steered a dinghy down the Amazon,—

was killed in Vietnam.

He died not in battle, not even in a “skirmish,” but in 
traffic as a military pedestrian, or so I was told
long after the event, too late to mourn properly.  

After lo, so many years away from the scene,—

not being there, but rather
safely tucked in my theology school dread 
when I learned he was dead,—

that remains among the saddest days of my life. 

Learning of his death I was flooded 
with the fact that I never said I was sorry 
for the time I did almost blind him.

Playing Tarzan, I pulled down upon him a vine 

from which we were swinging and, 
with a thud, it left a mark on his face
for his parents to hold against me and

for which he can never forgive me.

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