You held my hand, leaned your head on my shoulder as we strolled,
a warm Miami summer evening breeze caressing our teenage limbs.
I was 15; just my acoustic guitar, faded coveralls and I hopped on that plane
to meet you, my cousin’s cousin, the kid who blew up frogs at his father’s
hippy wedding in the field, where I first learned the term “cow pie.”
Five years later, you lost your baby lean and mean, grown taut with muscle,
cut waist cool and long hair, the way we tagged ourselves in 1975.
When my father drove the Rambler upstate, up Taghkonic Parkway to
German Town, the five of us lived the farm life a few days, meeting our dinner,
brown bunnies in the hutch by day, roasted “chicken” by night.
It was there I re-met you for the fourth but first time, my father’s friend’s son,
his sister’s husband’s sister’s son; were we related? I hoped not. And we
toked and joked, even my father sat on the porch and smoked a jay, the first
and last time, tobacco his lung poisoning of choice at the time. Your sister,
just returned from the army, lay in the arms of another woman as I passed her room.
It was the first time I knew what it was like to be free, though I believed I was
in the new suburban neighborhood my father planted us in, his $1.50 an hour
for 72 hours a week job, affording him the move from the city to the burbs. But the
farm was cool, fresh garden greens, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, and weed.
We stayed for the weekend, and I left with a pulsing heart and a new pen pal.
You wrote to me in French, using the word “chat” for pussy, and even I knew that
was wrong, and how did we manage to pull that off with both our families around?
But we did, and I loved your letters but not as much as when you sang to me, the
next summer, under a full Miami moon, amid the pink and blue summer homes,
“Oh, I’m being followed by a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.”