I walk down the center aisle
in a dimly lit chapel, mourners
hunched together in wood pews
like crows on power lines,
black shoulders sagging.

Amid sobs and the click click
of rosary beads,
a white coffin no bigger
than a toy chest lies open.
And candles, more candles
than he is old, light the boyʼs face.

Soft curls lie on a satin pillow.
His khakis are pressed,
Oxfords polished.
Even the red plastic bat
and ball alongside him
are not nearly as scratched
as they should be.

I imagine him at fifteen.
He digs his cleats into the earth
and wham, a line drive.
The bleachers go wild,
his legs pump as if heʼd been born
for that moment.
He feels like he could run forever,
past the crowd, toward the childhood
he missed, and the family pool
where his tiny body
floats face down.
Iʼll save you, he says,
Iʼll save you.

 

Published
Naugatuck River Review, 2012