Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

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 out”
towers in the wind, singing above the sea,
anthems of self-belief, innate, devout”

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.