Michael

They found him
In front of the couch,

He was only
Thirty-three years old –

With his girlfriend
Now catatonic,

And father
A silent wreck.

My fears
Of something amiss
Were affirmed
When mom kept
Calling –

Her texts spoke
Utter volumes

Through phrases,

Short,

To the point.

I remembered
Days we’d work
While standing
Beneath that awning
Of a house
I’d built from worries
Telling me
He had none –

Quietly,
Leaning on stucco,

Waiting by a pit
Of mortar,

His jeans
That product of labor
Sporting patches
Pridefully stitched.

Sacred
Were times we spoke,

For youth
Was our common
Religion,

But death
Mocks age regardless
Of what faith
Or god
You hold.

Distinctly
I can recall

His words
While breathing heavily,

“These lungs
Exposed to ashes
Each day will
Fail me soon.”

To admit
I nearly cried
Would ruin
What meaning lingers

Since learning
Life is sacred
By what virtues
Pain does speak.

Perhaps
Those coming months
Prove much worse
Than grief
Imagines.

Today
Brings hurt abundant,

Tomorrow
Hurt may yield.

Yet forever
I’ll always see him

Pouring concrete
Over driveways –

Smiling,
Knowing an innocence
This year
Nearly all
Have lost.

  • J. Pigno

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