By Dave Hood
It’s mid October. Yellow birches
descending. Frost covering lawns
and windshields of parked automobiles.
A few decorated pumpkins perched
on porches, reminding of Halloween.
The town’s still and quiet, except for a
cool breeze, chilling the bones.
I’m taking a solitary stroll along the dim,
empty streets, unable to sleep, my mind
imbued with the worry of reality.
I’m haunted by images, a friend
I visited yesterday.
His future is a death sentence.
He’s lying in a hospital bed, cancer
assaulting his body and soul.
I pass the elementary school playground,
Remember the pickup hockey games
We played as kids,
Then pass the local bar,
Where we’d get “shit faced,”
As teenagers, smoke pot,
Discuss dreams of the future,
pick up, single women, take them home,
Just for a thrill,
Then pass the church,
Where we celebrated his marriage,
To a pretty woman he met
one ordinary night at the bar,
then divorced, six years later.
(That was twenty five years ago.)
I finally stop, stand still, in front of the town
cemetery, where the dead rest.
The gravestones summon a haunting question:
Will he still be here when
the snow begins to fall?
Or will I be mourning
The loss of a dear friend
at this cemetery?
After a few moments, I recall a verse
By Emily Dickinson,
“Grant me, oh Lord, a Sunny mind,
Thy windy will to bear!”