I See Again

the sixty-year-old man
forty-eight hours tired
walking from hospital to shelter
a picture in his hand,
Have you seen this man?
have you seen my son?

On the other coast,
safe in the kitchen
my four-year-old son
plays with football figures
six inches high. Takes the helmet
off one and puts it on another.
Talking all the time.

I listen to his nonsense as if it held
the secret to the universe.

Nahnaaaaaha boo boo
You can’t catch me.

I see again
a tower flame into flower.
A single body falling.
You can’t catch me.

Tackle! he shouts
with little boy fierceness
crashing the green team
into the red.

His eyes sparkle. His skin so smooth.

In New York, the  man drags
his wrinkled hand through
his shock of hair, Have you seen
my son? have you seen his name
on any of the  lists?

Tackle! my four-year-old’s forehead
furrows, his hands clap and toss the figures up.
They do not puncture, they do not shatter
as they fall.

I see again the silhouette.
Body black and spinning
past the glass.

My son’s brow clears.
He straightens one helmet
that has gone askew.
He hums a little tune.
Safe? Are we safe?

Mommy, can I have
some juice?

He looks at me
up from between his lashes.
I nod. I cannot move.

I drink him drink him in.

–gail ford

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