His small face peers worriedly out the kindergarten window
as I walk away, down the maple-lined path. He will be fine,
I know. I taught him the mysterious ways of words
years ago; already he is an eager participant in my love affair
with literature, though he will have to wait some years
If he has taken my other lessons to heart, he will know
to wear the appropriate masks, say little more than he should.
He may not have to wait long lonely years for friendship…
Is that not what all parents wish for their children —
that they should not make their own mistakes again?
No tears streak that pale brown skin, my stalwart boy.
He’d always been a sturdy child, quicker to laughter than
tears; more prone to silence than either. Like his father.
Six years now since I last saw the man, his hurried back
escaping down a path as I leaned in a doorway, incredulous.
Now I can rejoice in his cowardice, though the months following
silent departure were a storm of tears and bewilderment.
Who said that love conquers all? Liar.
Hurried kisses and promises, in dorm hallways and
basement practice rooms. Skipped calculus classes, as we
reveled in another new knowledge — the heady rush
of skin to skin; the perfect nestling of young bodies;
briefly matched heartbeats.
When he ran, he left a treasure behind him —
a heartbeat perfectly matched to mine.
If I had kept that gift,
my life would have ended; changed irreparably.
My son would have been five today.
June 14, 1996