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Around the South Bend

He stood in the puddle,
awash in the blacktop backdraft
overrun storm drain splatter,
his Red Wings cap mottled
with rain and sweat water
and a flick of Indiana mud
like he hung his head out car windows
spinning his tires in reverse.

I didn't act surprised
at Ender's Game from his backpack, gleaming
without a cover crease or spine break,
thrust into my stranger hands, so new,
a thing that I would never do, to loan
books to my unknown.

As to his unknowing, I cannot attest.
As to his intent, I can hear only
memory-whispers, breaking glass,
rings on the Enterprise phone, red alert.
Love notes in my pocket after hockey games,
where I had gone to watch my lover skate
in baggy pants and serial killer mask.
While this man sat a row behind me, behind the plexiglas
and goal and red light flash of scoring,
and laughed when I shrieked at the puck saucering
around the corner, up into the stands.

He wrote a fiction to my namesake,
etched a name into the tabletop
not mine, but his lover's he said.
Then read Mordant's Need, that I had praised
and smiled at me from the round table
in the fishbowl classroom
where we learned to tell our stories.

Disbelieve the roses on the windshield,
the tiny holeless box of sparrow,
chocolate cherries in my glovebox, melted.
Then wake to glass scattered like pollen on my pillow
and spawning my allergy to pain.


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