I remember you:
the smiling blonde of twenty-one
in the psych ward of Snowden Hospital.
Outwardly OK, friendly and easy-going,
healthier, it seemed, than some of the doctors,
your only apparent problem
a fondness for smoking pot.
Maybe you tried some pills,
maybe some coke.
When the counselors would lecture
on gateway drugs, on sober living,
on coping strategies,
you’d roll your bright and mischievous eyes
from beneath the black bill of a baseball cap.
I saw you exactly once more
after our stint at Snowden.
You were walking with friends in Central Square.
You waved hello at me and smiled
a soul-softening smile I wish I could have
stored in a jar for safe keeping.
It was two Septembers later,
you went to a bar on the North Shore
and found a guy who seemed harmless,
someone to spend a few hours with—
smoke, do some lines, whatever.
You went back to his place
and got into a fight.
You tried to leave.
They found you in the marshes,
the papers spoke of "multiple
blunt force trauma."
You’d be in your forties now.
I’d like to think you’d be all right,
that you’d have quit messing around,
you’d have found a program
where you’d learn good living:
Easy Does It, One Day at a Time.
But that's not what happened.
this poem can’t undo your brutal end.
It can’t go back and protect you,
make you as happy as birdsong in April,
domestic and safe as laundry.
I pray that you might flower once again
where wrecked petals unwither and freshen,
where degredation’s alchemized to light,
where wounds break into blossoms.