As you went one night last week
so went your lawn,
and while your family drove north
to bury you
it stood to reason that I push
my mower down the sidewalk
to take care of your business,
imagining you on the porch
in your plastic chair,
its Army green cushion,
pinching a Marlboro in one hand,
a scotch in the other,
watching me labor back and forth,
not minding the ways we kill ourselves
or the way grass grows
regardless of whether we observe it,
or how clouds unravel themselves into shadows
pretending to be bigger than they are.
I heard that on the night you died
you asked your wife to hold you
before slipping through her hands,
the kite of you floating
through the bedroom ceiling,
its arched tail snaking
between the fan blades.
I’d like to think our last request
is for something to hold onto –
a hand mirror,
or perhaps to revisit the vantage point
of a porch,
to remind ourselves that we are greater than clouds,
as if anything actually belonged to us,
as if everything were really ours.
During altar boy orientation in sixth grade
Father Shanley paused to ask if any of us
would rather not serve him as altar boys,
so I rose and walked out past the echo
of a thick church door;
independent, like the way teachers
described me in progress reports.
My mother wouldn’t mind,
she had just given birth
to my baby sister
and my great uncle
had been dropped at our doorstep
because his brother didn’t want
to take care of a cripple.
When we learned about vocations
in religion class that year,
a boy raised his hand and asked
how we would know
if we were being called to the priesthood.
Ms. Johnson said it would be like falling in love,
tingles would run up and down our spines
and our insides would turn warm like July.
She said she was an expert;
she had been divorced twice
and had fallen in love many times in between.
Those nights I knelt by my bed
beneath posters of wide receivers,
their rippled arms in mid-pump, simultaneously
running toward and away from something.
I held the Rosary beads Grandma brought from Italy
and prayed that I would fall in love someday,
for God to drop like a football into my arms,
or like the girl whose desk was next to mine,
her blue eye shadow and gold earrings,
her plaid skirt and the newborn curve of her legs.
Chris Abbate’s short fiction and poetry has appeared in Main Street Rag, Timberline Review, Common Ground Review, and Comstock Review among other journals. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Chris received honorable mention in the 2015 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition and has also received awards at the Nazim Hikmet poetry contest and the Flyleaf Books poetry contest. He resides in Holly Springs, NC.n.