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November 22, 2020 36 min

 

late august seminar in andrews hall

 

the fields

along I-80 are dark as

three years back

when you moved

behind every stalk

in the side-spill

of my headlights--

 

silent trips

only three weeks

four weeks

five

after your death marked for me

a new accounting of days

 

three years and I am here

and something like your arm

has wrapped itself around me

your hands

steer me through campus

the way you slid your bike

in and out of traffic

wind in your long hair

force of all that was behind you

guiding, pushing

 

counting keeps me

looking back

you, there behind me

not changing--

shrinking with distance

the spot on that narrow road

where I listened for you

in the grass

the gravel of that shoulder

the crescent of black rubber

mapping your short encounter

with something too heavy to resist

 

you're coming up again

from behind me

the windows are black

late summer is rolling over

into night

the pavement cooling outside

the fever rippling

toward the sky

 

the dashboard lights

are pale green and orange

 

how fast I'm not going

how little time has elapsed

how far I haven't been

my headlights hardly touch

the edge of night as I

tug each marker up

from murky water

counting off the next mile

this side of you

 

 

Kirk, Coming Down

 

Here on highway 6, between my feet, they've marked with orange spray-paint, the spot where you landed. Down there, by the tall grass is where they say you were hit. The paper said the man driving just fell asleep for a moment, and your bike was clearly over on the shoulder. Now, it's just a matter of the settlement, no one's pressing charges. They've marked your departure point and where you came to rest, but in between: twenty-five feet of nothing but air and time.

 

One track meet in

Middleschool

I came out during the rain to

watch you jump.

It was cold

you stripped off

your sweats

down to nothing but

your tank-top and shorts.

 

Your shoes looked too heavy

swinging on the ends

of your long skinny legs

and you bounced them

on the runway

shifting your weight back

and forth.

 

You paced off your approach

for the last jump

marked a takeoff point

by placing a wet twig

at the end

of the crescent you measured.

 

I stood as the rain became deafening

on the surface

of the nylon mat.

 

This'll be the last jump of the day

coach said.

 

You hit the twig

and lifted up into the rain

against a thousand

tiny droplets

stretching back, your arm

out

your eyes fierce

and peering back

over your shoulder.

Your torso snapped like a whip

making a loop

of your legs

that unfurled itself

an inch above the bar

and slung your

sneakers up and over.

Look at him fly

just look at him fly

and it seemed

like you'd never come down.

 

Then you did,

you cleared

the bar, hit the mat

and slid, sending a sheet

of thin rain arching like

tempered glass in front of

our eyes.

 

 

Summer of Whistles

 

We used to walk down the tracks

where it was so bright

the sun seemed to eat away the brown

discarded metal.

We made whistles out of some

(summer of whistles)

until you found that dollar

and the day passed

while we were making plans.

 

The can we kicked home

echoed, and I looked expecting two other boys

to come around the corner

ahead, they never did--- never did I tell you...

 

We came to my house

about the time the wind

tousled the trees and your hair

and I grew small under a darkening sky

watching you run fast down the blocks

till your speck turned

out of sight toward your house.

Sometimes I almost cried.

I don't know why I never told you...

 

That night, I knew you were listening to

the rumble and the rain.

I knew tomorrow would be dry.

I dreamed of you and your dollar bill, of the

sun, and rusty whistles. I dreamed that

tomorrow...

I would tell you

how much I loved you.

 

Kirk Miller

1964 to 1992

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