I read about your death
on the back page of The Daily Point.
Flashbacks of you: small, mute,
three steps behind your mother in braids,
hiking at Pound Ridge with granola and plums,
a swarm of kids chasing your sister
around the high school track
while you sat by an old elm
and counted stalks of dying weeds.
That summer your grandfather
slouched in the warm shade,
clutching his wheelchair,
drooling on his napkin bib
while Grandma Nan prayed
to the blessed virgin,
rubbing plastic beads
with freckled hands.
You rode shotgun in your father’s
Chevy; I squirmed
in the back, choking on the stench
of his special cigarettes.
Years later, your mother
moved to Denver, joined a cult,
changed her name to Prima Vista.
You lived in Nan’s garage,
tales of addiction flooding my line.
I stopped by the stucco cave last spring.
You answered the door,
distant, aloof, eyes hauling
the lost promise of a blurry past.
That was the last time I saw you.
Now I sit in a diner reading your obituary,
wondering if you died alone,
if Grandma Nan could survive
finding you with a needle in your arm,
and who broke the news to your mother,
living in the Rockies,
waiting for a spaceship
to carry her home.
JD Duff grew up in the suburbs of New York City. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and a Master of Arts in Teaching English Education from Manhattanville College. Her undergraduate degree is in Africana Studies from Binghamton University. JD taught college level writing for over seven years; helping students reach their goals of becoming proficient writers is one of her passions. She is currently in the process of starting a writing company, which will offer both academic and creative workshops. JD now splits her time between South Carolina and Pennsylvania.