“Buddy” by Keven Bellows

I sometimes think the Jim he is becoming
may be the Jim who was. Buddy
swinging on a fence
around a New England clapboard
with a wide porch, where
his grandfather rocked rain or shine.

Summers in Still River away from parents–
Buddy’s happiest hours. When not
sitting with the man in the rocker,
retired by alcohol long before his time,
he was practicing his swing
with a found golf club
on the course behind the property,
scrounging balls to earn pocket change.

Always easiest on his own, Buddy thrived
in this odd company that included Emerson and Thoreau,
favorites of his wellborn grandfather,
a 19th century gentleman, who left him
an abiding affection for men of few words—
memories undiminished through eight decades.

More boy at the gate
eager for adventure,
than the grandfather he now is,
Jim’s reservoir of resilience is Buddy,
whose arrival incites the onset of summer,
lazy days lengthening, lure of tall grass,
leaves turned inside out looking for rain.

Unfailingly courteous, grateful
for love that surrounds without confining,
the solitary boy reclaims the man,
makes us comfortable on the porch,
while he makes for the fence
across an invisible lawn.

Keven Bellows

Photo by VC Ferry

© 2011

“SKIN DEEP” by Keven Bellows

 

The top of maroon cotton pajamas,
embroidered dragon, frog closings,
is all I have left that touched
his skin–lovely back, strong arms.
It was in the hamper, safe from
my helpful children,
as they blew through his closet
like a March wind, boxing Armani suits,
cashmere sweaters, Turnbull& /Asher shirts,
giving them all away just days
after he died.

When my father died in his bed,
fifty years ago, I arrived home,
raced upstairs to smell his sheets,
but the bed had been changed.
Wild for some lingering scent of him
I leapt into his closet, sat on his shoes,
hugged his beautiful suits.

On assignment, the fashion editor brought
those pajamas to Jim from Hong Kong.
He was moved by the gift
but didn’t wear pajamas, until
frail and cold with age
when his fingers couldn’t work the corded knots.

He’d sit on the edge of the bed, struggling.
I’d get up, go ‘round to help him,
saying again, ”Why do you wear these?”
Exasperated. And he’d put his arms around
my waist as I fumbled with the loops.

Keven Bellows

© 2011