“Duluth” by Jesse S. Fourmy

Jesse S. Fourmy

DULUTH

     In memoriam, Ken T. Murphy,
     d.11/24/2009, Honolulu

My friend, in the wake of the Leonids,
your death, your long journey from Duluth.
Are you still surprised to have found
your parents’ marriage certificate
hidden in the family bible—
precious as a maple’s golden leaf?
Bastard through high school—who knew?
I admit I still laugh about it now,
this very minute while I write.
The way you told it over dinners
reminds me of how human we are
despite convention, despite reservations.
I can’t help my sadness thinking about you
and the last time we spoke at your home.
You offered us tea but we declined.
Now, I wished we’d stayed longer.
But in our youth we felt the urge to go
because our kids were tearing through your flowers.
I was embarrassed and thought it bothered you.
Now I realize you simply wanted company.
You’d called looking for a muscle man
to lift your television set and we came over.
You told us about your lifespan, how nobody
in your condition was expected to live as long.
I felt there was more in the way you said it,
in the way your eyes sparkled when we left.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012
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