By Rick Jordan || Winston-Salem Writers
That summer before the eighth grade, Lee and I met
at the community swimming pool
nearly every day.
we begged fries,
we sang to the juke box,
we ranked high school girls,
we mocked awkward divers,
we dove for dimes at the pool’s bottom,
we talked about new hair under our arms and on our legs,
we splashed lifeguards until they threatened expulsion.
This was our summer life.
That fall, Lee drowned.
The newspaper said his brother and he were fishing
when Lee fell out of the boat
and, not knowing how to swim,
The next day, I went to Sunday School.
When the teacher mentioned the death,
a student said he was a good friend of Lee’s.
I knew he didn’t know Lee.
I said nothing about the death or the report or
That day, I walked home realizing I knew
truths I could not profess.
They were crib-mates in the church nursery
Sat through twelve years of school together
Ran side by side in endless track meets
Stood in each other’s wedding parties
Gave showers for one another’s babies
Vacationed the nation together
Shared tears as mutual friends passed and
Leaned on one another through husbands’ services.
Today they warm the chilled waiting room of the clinic –
A new school for old friends to learn
and keep unspoken vows –
Till death do us part.
This was the first dinner party
in our nearly-four-year
house renovation project.
Your children ate quietly, then tore through
the length and breadth of each room playing
in a brick ranch playground.
They dodged behind unknobbed doors and buried
themselves under hung pants
in the just-shelved-and-poled closets.
One counted backwards loudly
as the others charged off
intent on being the last
to hear the squeal of discovery.
I was embarrassed
that my house
was not yet complete.
You were embarrassed
that your children
were not yet grown.
If only we had thought to ask
if we might join the game,
we may have both found what
we’re all really seeking.
Rick Jordan lives with his wife, his cat, and a borrowed schnauzer in Lewisville, NC. When he is not working or writing, he enjoys his square foot garden, Americana music, and hiking the Blue Ridge mountains. Recent work of his has appeared in Eno Journal and in Poetry South.
Founded in 2005, Winston-Salem Writers is a group of writers who write fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry, and who care about the art and craft of writing. They offer programs, workshops, critique groups, open mic nights, contests and writers’ nights out for both beginning writers and published authors. For more information, click HERE.