April 1967

by Kathleen Szoke

                          for Marianne S

                          We were ten
                          and we had never met
                          I learned your face
                          from a composition of tiny grey dots
                          precocious child reading the paper from front to back
                              – they thought I only read the comics, I suppose

                          They searched for you in woods and fields
                          I searched for you in newsprint and ink
                          day after day
                              – but we never found you
                          only a single blue running shoe by the side of the road

                          I thought of you as I walked down the street
                          looking over my shoulder for dark blue station wagons
                          I thought of you as I jumped rope at recess and 
                          as I ate my tuna casserole at supper-time and
                          as I laying waiting for sleep in the safety of clean cotton sheets

                          We hadn’t known before
                          what there was to fear in the world
                          but you had learned that now
                          No one spoke and I could not ask
                          I knew only that it was something
                          too terrible for the papers to name
                          And then I realized
                              – they were no longer looking for you
                          only a body they expected to find in the ground

                          You are still ten and I am not
                          I imagine the man you would have married
                          I see echoes of the children you never had
                          in the faces of my own
                          I look for you still in faces our age
                          on the street, in the grocery store
                          But your bones are still there
                          in the place we never found
                          in the cold dark soil that has cradled you for all these years
                          covered with a blanket of brown leaves

 

April 1967 was first published in The Dalhousie Review,
Spring/Summer 2012.

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