Gaylord Brewer

Look For Me Under Your Boot-Soles

Was it where they lost me
that I found myself?

My mother looks for me in photographs

affixed in books—held by a hospital blanket,

potato arms at the screaming melon of my face.

She turns the page to a kid oozing

from his shirt, betrayed outside a new school.

She diverts wet eyes to a box of sparrows,

then back to black and white. She knew

before she started her baby was going, gone.

My brothers, they wisely prefer not to look.

When they collect the practice bats

and rope them snug and heavy in a canvas bag,

when they lock the door and parade with family

beneath a garland of Sunday bells,

when they grill bun and burger with impunity,

they’d just as soon I didn’t appear, a genie

in black hood and suspenders, and I don’t.

My oldest friend looks for me at night flat

on his back. Bleary eyes search heaven

for the compass of my sword. His lip curls

with a finely formed insult, unflung.

The familiar bars of Symphony #1 (for ice

and bottle) caress the ear, and he flops to

his feet. To other friends, I’m an unwritten

diary, a cribsheet denied, a burned map.

Once a year my wife looks for me as courtesy,

jumps the bed with a needle of antique broach

and stitches the pillowy lumps beneath

our hand-pieced quilt. She calls in French,

cuddles under a snore before my silent answer.

Behind a screen, the dog points all day

to the spot he saw me last. Night drops like

a shot partridge and the tail quits wagging.