WHEN WE SPEAK OF OLD FRIENDS
Once I told him he owed me thirty dollars
only because I knew he’d pay up. I never said
I thought his girlfriend was prettier than mine. I thought
about that often. Sometimes I’d let him win at games.
If I knew he was bored and in trouble I’d start a fight
at the bar to make him smile. He always paid tabs.
He didn’t look anything like my brothers. He laughed
just because. He walked everywhere and marked new tags
in the neighborhood with gold stars. He had a map. He had
a disability check every month. He was fine. It was he
who swam the Wabash from Terre Haute to Lafayette. He lied
for a good story. He was one-hundred and thirty-three still
growing. Before he left and went somewhere else a few men
were beaten outside a 7-11. We went there all the time.
Then the cashier started watching me. If good-bye was a style
you wouldn’t think of giant fires. But he did.
Photo by Allegra Mather