Teen Spirit

Photo by Eva

36 lacrosse sticks
simultaneously fall
and softly, tap, into a gauntlet;
constrained nets swish
like a short lifetime, sped up
down the center of the church.

I’m on the the aisle, inches away
from a sea of red jerseys
with white numbers and letters
that form names
I don’t know.

Close enough to smell
the grief of a young man
he tries to hide it with
Armani’s Code, but his eyes
scream defeat.

A choir of girls sing “In the Arms of an Angel”
and just like them, I’m eighteen again
flat tire by the side of the side of the road;
she had always been my partner in crime.

The highway was always a dangerous place
for two girls traveling alone; we knew that.
Why did she run out in front of that car?

It was a bad trip that time and this time, cancer
in his bones no less
an urn, black,
the flare of candle shining above,
a palette of pictures, and
lines of county sheriffs and teenagers and news cameras;
standing-room only
saying goodbye to an inspiration.

The suffering and the pain
no positive attitude can endure.
Why can’t anyone bare to recognize
it’s nothing in the end?

He almost made it –
his birthday in two days
18 candles and a cake
were waiting in the fridge;
now slumped at the bottom
of the garbage bin at
the end of the driveway.

There were yellow ribbons
and shaved heads.
There were prayers
and motivating slogans.
There were casseroles
and vigils on a hill.
There were flowers
and sleepless nights.

And parents sliding out of
hospital chairs
who will never
catch up on
their sleep.


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