That last summer, not ready to admit defeat,
we set out too often to the beach like soldiers
on a mission, trying to prove something (what?).
Your father pulled you and your brother behind him
in a little red wagon, quietly disapproving of me,
a now familiar look of discontent on his solemn face.
Afterwards, I hosed you down in the driveway,
a ritual I repeated from my own childhood.
The smell of cold water and metal remind me
of returning home, hot and tired from a day at the lake.
My father holding the garden hose to my lips,
popsicle in my hand gleaming like the purple sapphire
in a fairy tale, the sun blocking
the expressions on my parents’ faces.
On those wide open summer evenings,
you puttered around the house in pajamas,
your bony, sun-kissed shoulders not yet burdened.
Smiling and oblivious, you clutched my old copy
of “Our Town” too tightly in your dimpled hands,
pretending you could read it, writing
your name over and over on the inside cover.
One night I found you in bed, “Our Town”
tucked in next to you, both of you covered up like dolls.
Lying side by side on your backs as though gazing at stars,
whispering into the dark: this is how we were once.