For Guitar George
Winters, we spent hiding behind snowflakes.
Me, I was strange, keeping lake frogs
in my room. Kissing them until my brother
teased me about warts. I named one George after you.
I’d find escapees under the radiator, shriveled and dried.
I’d return them to the pond. Even in death,
I understood their need to belong to the earth.
Later, I knew a man who covered his tracks with tattoos,
snakes and dragons with fiery mouths.
His arms were green and red from wrist to shoulder.
His skin felt smooth and warm, wrinkles flattened out,
just like those childhood frogs.
Winters, I skated the pond, wondered how they lived,
looking for motion beneath the ice.
I’d talk to you through this frozen barrier, you
weren’t pretty like the others. You spoke
mysteries and I imagined you making me tea.
Jasmine, hot and exotic, while all my friends
thought it cool to drink coffee.
Coming home after school to find mom passed out,
I’d hear you whisper :
“As long as you hate, there will be people to hate.”
I’d walk past her, grabbing my skates.
On the days the mirror was snow covered,
we’d fall on our backs and make angels.
On the nights, I’d try and hug the moon.
The snow would come down like stars,
blowing stardust in my face.
Years ago, you made your guitar weep
for girls such as I, for beautiful, strange joy.
Winter, I pulled out my skates and returned to
the place where I’d meet you, too old to make angels,
too young to have no living brothers left to tease.
I put my ear to the pond surface and listened for you.
You were already making a journey, you were already
making angels weep like your guitar.
I look for you, when the snow comes down like stardust.
I reach for you, when I try and hug the moon.
I miss you George, when I tie up my old laces.
Winters, I skate the pond.
By Laurie Byro