Hey Joe
Where'd you go? (poem)

I remember when you told us all
How you threw little Rebecca
Into the lake knowing she cannot swim
Refusing to rescue her
And how she learned to swim

I remember how little Valerie
Knew the entire alphabet by the age of two
We all knew she'd be the one
And little Joe Junior, the quiet kid

I remember my birthday
I was four and it was '55
You playing cards
I have the picture
You, Uncle Roxy, Vincent, Becky
Marjorie, and my father
Frozen in time
Like yesterday afternoon

I remember how you said
The city would not let you tear down the garage
And later it mysteriously
Burned to the ground

I remember the fine cashmere coat
You passed down to me
But I was not big enough to fill it
When I was twenty six

I remember when I read your obituary
How I was so shocked but took it in stride
How I had no reason to cry
But ten hours later my face folded
Caved in on itself
Like a prune turning unto a crushed tomato
The agony
The power of grief
A big brother suddenly gone forever
Leaving me no chance to tell you
I loved you more than anyone
Save for my own mother
I remember how twenty four years had passed
So terribly swiftly
Since I saw you last
When you were 54
But you were always thirty five
It seemed like a mistake
When the obituary said you were seventy seven

I remember my plans
How I'd be making that journey soon
Driving fourteen hundred miles to see you
And your children

How your father was my father
My dearest friend in all the world
My godfather
How your mother was the best cook in all of Akron
My godmother

I remember that Saturday in 1978
When we all spent the afternoon
Making pizza at the table
Where your father sat
Just days before
The same table
Where he poured the wine
And told me everything
A man would need to know
At the age of nine
I remember how you told me
You want to dance at my wedding

Now I know
How a memory can be so alive
I can actually smell the kitchen
The olive oil, the oregano, the garlic
Baking in the oven
Smell the redness of the wine
Hear the other children laughing
As Italian words float so fluently
With emphasis and passion
Two generations of flesh and blood
Gone silent, never to return
Where Joe.... where did you go?

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© Vincent B. Rain

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