I am on vacation (stay-cation) and am 'supposed' to be working on my book this morning, a self publishing project that I hope to have ready in the fall for anyone interested. Well, I came across this poem in that partial volume, written in 1994, and I thought I'd post it. I am the youngest of eight children. This is about my next older sibling, four years my senior. He doesn't read my blog, but even if he did, I'm not sure he'd find anything in this poem that is untrue or unfair. He was my best buddy growing up. He tried to teach me to laugh at myself when I struck out at neighborhood baseball. He didn't succeed, but I love him for trying.
He arrived home like a Fenian
in his long-haired sheep coat,
dirty from bus sides, the smell of English
cigarettes a celebration in his hair,
maroon patent platforms cracked
from two lavish weeks on London sidewalks,
fulvous Lennon wire-rims the keystone,
his mark of triumph.
he had pocketed his tuition money and cast
the coins over his shoulder into the Thames.
I noticed him camber slightly
as they stepped from the station wagon,
then straighten to the same height as Dad,
the first time my brother ever appeared
a stranger in our town, combating the gravel
of the driveway, so unlike Dad, even calumnious
in his gait, the jingle of foreign currency
audible above the restraint of our welcome.
It was then I knew he had entered a mezzanine
decade or century or maybe an island
where he began to linger
away from us, although 25 years later
he still lives in the same town.
He approached my mother and me on the porch
and, looking me in the eye,
departed across the channel, oars cocked.
Listen to a podcast of this poem here.
Photo still of London in 1970 from the movie "Follow Me" found here.