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Behind the walls, you will remember,
Like summer’s first cherry—
The house with strange curtains
Where we once rested before the VCR
Licking frozen corndogs like lollipops,
Where you opened books,
The Naughty Bunny,
The ketchup children,
The Bay and the Small, Small Pond,
When you opened books
Now tattooed with your scent and your scribbles
You hung memories on the tree of my mind,
Like socks rolled tight into donuts,
Like shiny, hollow disks.
You are strange, you are behind the walls,
You are under the blankets, down the highway,
Far from the bathtub where we both played,
The shopping car we both rode inside,
The strollers we both slept inside.
Daylight falls on another playground
I remember how you planted your body
High up on the slide, refusing to glide,
even for the Mexican boys,
Now you’re going down life fast, out of sight.
Milo floating downriver in a box in Milo and Otis
Couldn’t compare to the danger I feel
The lostness, loneliness.
Grinning and skipping,
You spare us goodbye
Even as the glass picture
Looks empty without your nudging reflection,
Your place at the table free of ravioli.
See the cars go by,
The cars go by, the cars go by,
Like Brother Joey in the psych ward upstairs—
“He’s upstairs,” you said,
Clear and truthful.
You love the bedposts, you love the storybook,
You love dinner, you love the movie credits.
A movie gives way to a list of names nobody knows
You see them and jump with glee.
You had to leave home because
You couldn’t stand naked on the roof
Facing old cronies and boomers at the fast food joint
Who’d keel in shock.
You had to leave because
You couldn’t run naked down the highway
By the shop of the grizzled auto repairman.
You had to leave because…
Because…I don’t know,
I don’t know you
Like I don’t know names in the credits
Don’t know hearts,
Don’t know God’s secrets.
Well, you feel just like the credits
In a way—
You skip into obscurity at the end of the day
You keep on smiling
Broken-toothed and hungry
As you cut loose and skip away.
I looked into your house window through the car’s window
Outside the windows,
The Halloween decorations
They would put Christmas lights and Nativity scenes up
Fragile light escaping the cracks
Doors with buzzers and alarms
Glass bricks cemented together
Never enough light to find our way—
Till I looked into you
Saw you jumping and grinning, gone from all this chaos,
Round and round and round in circles,
In a little world of your own, a world called David.