August 1, 2016

Ron Koertge

A SURPRISE VISIT

She appears during my office hour, says a name,
and asks if I remember her son.

“Victor. Sure.”

“Did you know he died?”

That makes me sit up straighter. “Jesus, no.
I’m so sorry.”

She shows me a handful of poems written
in the lilac ink he adored.

“He wrote these in the hospital.
Were the other students kind to him?”

“It was a good class.”

“He talked about it a lot.” She grips a double-strand
of pearls. “I promised him I would stop by.”
I stand to shake hands. Then walk her to
a door that opens to the usual pandemonium:

the insults and flirting and threats of the living.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos

[download audio]

__________

Ron Koertge: “I’ve lived in the L.A. area since 1965. Sure, I came for a job, but I’d been to L.A. briefly and it struck me as wonderfully indifferent to what I did, whom I slept with, what I wrote. For somebody from a little town, that seemed like paradise.” (website)