In 1942 when I was ten
and you were five, we got together Sundays
as I'd head north to military school,
flagging the Greyhound down. Those were not fun days:
Mother, broken by life, had left the scene;
Pearl had called father to a four-year fight.
My scruffy boots, the tell-all uniform,
spotted and rank-less, put on view the fright
I was at fifth-grade soldiering. Then I heard
through open windows how you'd worked it outó
towers in the wind, singing above the sea,
anthems of self-belief, innate, devoutó
and you became a brother instantly.
As weeks passed and I listened on that span,
your riffs of joy seemed almost tuned to ease
my chronic fear of growing into a man.
Some you did not convince as easily.
May they, drenched in despair, who could not heal,
return to light somewhere down harbor skies,
beyond the flotsam and the listening seal.