Would I know him now, on this day
that marks his early passing?
It kills me that I didn’t get to see
those first dark hairs on his chest
thicken for me to run my hands through
lying next to him in our bed.
Would the tenor of my voice catch his ear
and would he turn thinking that he knows me?
It kills me that he would not recognize
my bones now covered by layers of generous flesh,
or remember my skin that once touched
his so secretly and so long ago.
How would he look as the years we
planned to spend together passed?
It kills me that he never grew that last inch to reach
his full height or freaked at his first gray hair
patient while I plucked out the offending marauder
and assured him he still looked young.
What kind of father would he have been
to the children he did not live to see?
It kills me that his hands never held her
and she did not sleep upon his chest
or hold his hand crossing the street
while he lived to keep her safe.
Would he have been successful
as his young promise showed?
It kills me that he didn’t get to retire
from the career he never had.
And that I went on to work and marry,
to live a whole life – without him.
Will I ever forget what we had and
what we wanted to have together?
Not daily now but on special days,
his birthday and his death day,
I lament the life he did not
live to live.
But, other days, when
tragedy inserts itself like
arms into a winter coat,
in those dark, dark days
It’s a blessing that he is,
for me, ‘ever seventeen.