I plead off with myself for not going – I had to work, someone had to work –
all the other young cashiers and baggers asked off from the grocery store.
Everyone went to Boe’s funeral.
Boe – smiling, dark-haired boy; thickest drawl you’d ever heard
with tobacco in his lip; the safety playing football, which even now seems funny,
reckless as he was. At fifteen, Boe
gave himself third-degree burns throwing kerosene on a bonfire, got stuck in a wheelchair
for a month. But he laughed at himself and made everyone love him.
He used to jut his chin upwards, a teenage-boy’s salute as we passed
in the school hallways. An ‘in’ kid – a jock –
every single pair of jeans he wore had at least one hole in at least one knee.
Sometimes the scars from those burns showed through.
I saw him maybe once after the cap-and-gown affair of graduation. Boe died
at nineteen, drunk, wrapped his truck around a tree.
His funeral – would going there have fixed this? This thinking about Boe
every day, mulling over his death,
like some strange piece of a currency
I’m not familiar with.