Someone Else May Remember You Differently

By Joe Engel

Seeing your name, Jason,

etched in the red brick below me

I recall you most

in the summer of 1984.

You so trustworthy, so good, 

I allowed you into our fort,

made of branches in a half circle

against a fence, like a teepee,

to see the collection

of magazines my neighbor snuck

from his grandads collection.

I told you where they came from

as I peeled back the pages;

your expression, 

just a gaze, unchanged, lingering

over a magazine filled with women’s figures

that I heard sing.

No approval, or disapproval.

No comment, or sign of awe.

I didn’t bring those out again

with you around. It felt wrong.

Instead, we rode our BMX bikes

through the dirt tracks in the fields.

Out to the ponds 

filled with tires and tad poles.

I don’t remember much of our conversations,

but know I didn’t make you laugh

even though, to everyone else, I was a hoot.

I liked you for that.

When you spoke I believed you

and I, in turn, had to say something true.

At the end of summer,

my mom took a job,

and we moved a few miles north

into Kenosha.

I have a memory that I rode

my BMX seven miles to visit you,

you were not home

and I rode back alone. I don’t know

if this memory is a dream,

but it holds truth.

Our friendship was lost in location,

covered in the brush of adolescence.

I would pass you

in the Junior High halls

where you walked with the kids 

from the old neighborhood;

Metallica T-Shirts,

long hair and fuzzy stubble

virginity no longer a worry at thirteen,

and still, virtue clung to you,

you didn’t need to smile, 

you didn’t need to prove this.

I wonder if you wanted that.

The brick I stand over 

is yours, donated, dedicated

to your memory, it says 2001,

your name carved into it in black

surrounded by a hundred others.

I just happened upon it

like a seed blown from your life, 

never taken root, blown

here to feel the lack.

You were 24.

Someone said it was because of love,

there is just no way, they said,

that there was more.

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