Seventeen, blonde ringlets
in ordered disarray, too-small shirt
stretched over an early summer tan,
oversize Levis slung low on your hips.

You gathered with friends
for lunch gossip by the highway,
for illicit smokes,
for the heads turned toward your slimness.
You wait, impatient for
freedom: no dictation, no consequences,
a horizon out of reach.
The promises it makes are never kept.

There were warnings, a father’s law.
Actions come with consequences.
Your youth may tempt,
but your eyes seem sunken, your flesh cold.
If I reached you, would you
trickle between my fingers?
Does your heart still beat
beneath smokey halos?

Part of you died that day,
and we buried your innocence while
Information listed your new number.

There are no monuments but
we linger anyway.

Come home.

Apr. 1996