Monday, February 4, 2013

365 Poems: Denny, 1964

Day 35

Here's another one I wrote for the Gotham Writer's Workshop poetry session. The assignment was a story poem; I took a childhood memory, and made a story up about it.

Denny, 1964


He was eighteen
and I was eight,
and all we had in common
was a long bus ride
down dusty township roads.
Why he sat with me
I’ll never know --
Maybe because he was
the big brother of five brothers,
and I was a little sister
he’d never have.

October, and out the bus windows
the colors were so pretty --
Back then I couldn’t see
winter’s skeleton under the leaves.
That day he looked down at me,smiling: 
Comin’ to the big game?
I wished with all my small heart
I could, but --
No, I whispered, Can’t come.
Mom says no.
Gonna whip those Dukes! Denny said,
and maybe my face was sad --
Don’t worry, Kit --
When you’re bigger you’ll go
to all the games.
Then somebody in the back
called Denny! and he laughed,
and turned away. And if he
forgot about me just then,
I never forgot about him.

In 1964, when you’re little,
nobody tells you much --
But your ears still work.At church between
Sunday school and service, whispers: 
After the game,an awful accident --
Four boys in the car.
Two -- gone.


When you’re eight the truth is
terrible and changeable,
and out of your control.
On Monday if the bus was
More quiet than usual,
it was lost on me. I was waiting,
looking out the window,
wishing I could drive. Or fly.
Denny would tell me what happened --
Did we win? Did he whip those Dukes?
But when we came to his driveway,
no one was there. 
None of his brothers -- or Denny. 

We slowed ... then drove on.
And the bus grew silent,
and suddenly I couldn’t see
Out the window anymore.

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