I Can't Help Wishing Christopher
I took your death out on a boy in a new Parka who smiled
all wrong - the season you counted my saves match by match -
the same year you scored twice from the half way line
and I had to listen to the touchline-wallahs behind my goal
shaking their heads and muttering that by Christ you could kick a ball.
Does it matter they thought we looked alike?
Our families joked about peas and pods at Nativity plays,
smiled warmly about the mix up of our cricket whites.
I know it's wrong I hid from your mother's ghost
once you were lost; too fresh to understand that kind of wild
grief but old enough to fear her harrowed longing
when she saw my face, the Prozac hope that you were back –
some heinous mistake.
I know where your grave is.
I was there the morning two men sliced a cavity so your
shattered bones might displace a little ground
and when they stopped your mother from clawing
at your coffin lid and following into earth to drag you home.
Other times over the years - to prove to others I knew the dead
and play upon a grief long since disappeared,
or bored, counting the rows of the newer dead who smother you now –
a test I suppose because you're not so easy to find these days.
The man that broke you into pieces on the bonnet of his car
did not speak in court; a pre-prepared statement was read aloud
by a fresh-faced barrister in which he expressed his great sorrow -
and who knows what that's like to live with over the years,
maybe he still cares; maybe he soaks up gin in Melbourne bars;
perhaps like you he sports the eternal grin.
I can't help wonder why you failed to turn your head
before you pushed the peddle down and rolled your wheels
across that kerb – why you didn't think to look
the one time when it mattered most;
so close that summer to making it into memory
like the others who scattered to different schools -
all but shadows now, the grainy swarm of history,
and I can't help wishing Christopher that your name
was somewhere on the tip of my tongue;
your face a blurry mesh of all the rest,
not wondering or caring where you are,
if your wife drinks herbal tea, if the kids bar one
have wavy hair – not knowing what your life's become.
If only we'd had that chance to drift apart -
to not give a second thought, to stare blankly at a name
on some social network - and then move on.