Monday, December 20, 2010

In Memoriam: Luke

photo: Jonathan Morse*
 I received a card on Saturday, not happy but not unexpected. A kid I'd known on the west coast had passed. Adopted and special needs, his parents knew his time here was limited, though they had hopes. He lived to twenty-two, so I suppose he was no longer a kid. Once I moved to New York I saw him when he was brought to Columbia-Presbyterian Children's Hosp. for a consult with specialists.

Luke's bit of light was wholly original and our connection oddly intuitive and full of laughs.  I worked my hardest to beat him at gin rummy. He beat me at bowling--not hard to do. Once we hung out on Bainbridge Island, WA, while his parents were in the process of moving stuff to a new house. Our interplay is where "Kind of Wild" comes from.

"Kind of Wild" has never been sure what it wanted to be--poem, narrative, prose poem.  It is what it is.  And so. . .


I swear to you when his parents leave to get the truck and Luke and I sit by the broke VCR the kid vows I know how to make it work. The room is bare except for the TV and one mover’s box, hard light, small winter air, so it's pretty intimate, me and Luke, him turning to me, pledging I know how to make it work. Because until that moment he’s heavy on kinesis; kid does bodywork two days a week and a special educator lays claim to his verbal skills. But soon as his parents are gone he turns to me nice as you please and swears what I have yet to believe from anyone, I know how to make it work. He slips in the tape easy as a knife through butter left out in July, adjusts, presses a black knob and bingo, we cheer for Barbra and Walter Matthau and dance to Hello Dolly. Luke's dance is weeds tumbling in air until they light – invisible. I’m all that Luke is but all that I am too – different weeds growing. He hopes if he keeps me dancing, Winnie the Pooh will eclipse Barbra, singing Hello Eeyore it's so nice to have you back where you belong. He’s scheming and jumpy and I declare statues to be the game so I have time out, moments to pretend we’re back where we started by the VCR, for there to be no music no sound except Luke, tired and kind of wild, turning to me, promising to make it work.

*Jonathan Morse blogs at The Art Part

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