Curiosity on 8th Street

By Joe Engel

There is ice on the blacktop

where I turn right into

an old friend’s neighborhood.

The road crunches. 

My memory slips.

I don’t remember this road

in winter.

The dimensions are off

but the ravine 

where we played war 

among the Elephant’s Ear is there,

and the train tracks remain

a way for children 

to compress pennies

for the alchemy

of an engines weight.

There are new houses

that stole the open space,

that cast shadows and change

on small ranch homes.

My tires find wheel ruts

in the dark gray ice.

I pull past a house

and remember laughter

like pastels splashed on walls,

remember a fight

in another house where I hear

the son still gets drunk

in the garage.

Red dixie cups,  

and a space heater’s glow.

I see the pavilion,

it’s roof that my friend fell from,

I hear his mother scream

as I did then

though I wasn’t there.

I slow at his boyhood home

where the sunlight is not obscured,

and as I turn to relive the way

our feet ran up and down

the basement stairs,

taste how their food 

was different than my parent’s;

deep fried cauliflower and green beans,

I see his father

through the picture window

staring into his neighborhood,

his slender frame sunk into his couch

where he has a clear view.

I see his eyes.

He must see me too.

I could wave at him

where he sits in the sunlight

coming through the glass, 

maybe thinking of his sons

maybe wondering what to do;

salt the driveway, put out birdseed,

looking for that thing

while the daylight lasts.

We don’t motion to each other,

at 1:15 on a freezing Monday afternoon.

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