Some lines for David Goodwin


We all knew you were a walking time bomb,

the explosive charge your enlarged heart,

the timer your diabetes,

the detonator your epilepsy.

 

I was there at the hospital after

your first heart attack when they

announced you had, effectively,

lost half your heart. You were

the one who started it after

the gang left, wondering about

the words “effectively” and

“affectively", breaking me into howls

of sudden nervous laughter as you parsed

the different diagnostic possibilities

of both words, joining my helpless

gallows laugh with your own but

apologizing because, as you explained

between gusts of soft gasps, you

could only laugh half-heartedly,

that hideous adverb provoking

a loud raucuous exhaustion of

every possibility you could do

half-heartedly, from walking to

sleeping to dreaming to hearing

half-heartedly

to reading to talking to living

half-heartedly

to tasting to seeing to touching

half-heartedly

to defecating to micturating,

a word you had to define for the

two nurse interns who had peered in

and then joined in, worried, then

astonished, then delighted by

this man who could paint such a

surreal landscape of puns and jokes

about his own heart attack

so whole-heartedly.

 

You never did anything half-heartedly.

We all knew that. We all knew about your

meticulous attention to detail, those

legal pads of notes on every slide,

your image horde, that stupendous

treasury of slides, your eyes, that

vast concentration of knowledge

and intellect behind your piercing

stare, a falcon’s eyes. We all knew

you could see better than all of us.

 

The last time I saw you in the parking lot

after class. You’re in your car, motor

running and I’m walking down the sidewalk,

loitering, a last forbidden cigarette

before the drive down I-380. We nod at each other,

acknowledging the same road we’ve traveled

all these same years. You back up, we nod again,

a cursory wave of the hand and you drive out.

 

I miss that white Ford Escort wagon,

the back piled high with books and canvas.

I miss the Dennis Kucinich bumper sticker.

 

I miss you.