He ran like butter through the line
into the backfield churning this way, that . . .
So much was invested in each motion
of head tucked, arms crossed with the ball, both legs
propelling the way forward without fail,
those who watched remember him and weep
but not I, with whom he was a brother,
yet only Dale Walker, who crashed with him
and should have died, being the passenger,
was the sole witness of such will to live
Jim shouldered his friend and stumbled the mile
to a farmhouse, its yard light coming on
to be the moon that was absent that night,
the aging couple bathing the deep wounds
before the ambulance arrived. They lived.
Dale said he would have died except for Jim.
Dale was out in time to work hop harvest,
Jim in Seattle on the seventh floor
of the hospital. I saw him through glass
and his head turned as he was walking past,
the mask that was now his new face seeming
to smile, our abrazos first and final
though how could we know the grave would open,
its stone door immovable. Then I wept
days, that day and who knows how many more
on the other side of the great mountains
I saw from the air last time I was there
after bidding both our mothers goodbye.
Jim and Dale stayed on the West Coast, I left
for the East, where we hear the first star shone.
(25 December 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander