Lying in fetal position, turned to right side, on furthest edge of mattress.
Past midnight, room dark, neighborhood quiet.
Staring through frost-rimmed window at stark moon.
Anti-abortion activists on undergrad campus earlier today,
Decrying murder of potential lives.
If potentiality is the criterion,
Then every adolescent boy in history has committed genocide.
Into wads of Kleenex, old socks, and toilet bowls.
Future entrepreneurs, researchers, concert pianists, presidents,
Pulitzer winners–millions at a time–mercilessly flushed to the sewer
Among the banana peel
And Pop-Tart crust
From this morning’s breakfast.
Attending guest speaker event at the college.
Open to public.
Evening, already dark outside.
Semicircle lecture hall filled
With rosy undergrads,
Pensive graduate students,
Professors in tweed sports coats,
Smattering of retired professionals from town,
My chair squeaks softly.
Glance at an older student further down my row.
Knitted charcoal sweater, black skinny chinos, stark white Vans hightops.
Hair pale caramel, perfectly tousled.
Tapered sideburns point to smooth angular jaw.
Slate grey eyes meet mine.
Flicker of gentle smile.
I stare down at my worn Nikes.
Throw on heavy coat,
Flip up collar,
Stride into frigid night,
Overcast Sunday morning.
Brisk north wind.
Two boys play soccer in practice field next to deserted high school.
One wears olive green hoodie, red mesh shorts, fluorescent orange cleats.
Friend wears grey beanie cap, black Adidas sweats, blue t-shirt over black long-sleeves.
Early teens, perhaps thirteen or fourteen years:
That tender age when child’s body stretches
Over a lithe, growing frame;
When youthful energy meets budding strength,
Resulting in effortless, tireless athleticism;
When cell phones and Snapchat porn
Vie equally with Legos and hide-and-seek matches;
When dreams begin their inexorable march
Against the onslaught of daily existence.
Hoodie boy scores goal against friend;
Yells in victory, voice cracks;
They switch places.
In ten, fifteen years’ time, where will the boys be? Who will they be?
Will they remember this cold November morning?
Will they remember to dream?
Would that I could talk to my fourteen-year-old self.
Why does it take us a lifetime to figure out how to live?
Walking through town today.
Fallen leaves, assorted browns and faded oranges,
Lie scattered along path.
Air is crisp.
Football game at the college.
Some sort of sporting event at the high school.
Dull roar of crowds from both fields.
With families and young people:
Elementary school girls playing tag on the church lawn;
Adolescent boys, effortlessly slender, strolling languidly in their hormonal pack;
Entitled fraternity bros
In designer skinny jeans
Smoking vapes and laughing
With perfect dentition.
I go unnoticed.
Slows my gait to a shuffle as I walk through leaves.
How badly I long
For a friend,