Poem Without a Title

Your laughter was a car engine sputtering. Your peers were whiz kids in the dot com world. You showed me notes you’d made in the margins of all seven volumes by Proust. You said Sentimental Education wasn’t sentimental enough. You rolled your own leaves reading Ulysses, finishing it in three nights flat, but you wished to read it in one day to parallel the book’s action. “Impossible,” I said. “Impossible doesn’t exist in my vocabulary,” you said. “This can’t be a poetic line,” you said, shaking your head at my poem. “It’s running all the way to Pakistan.” I was nearly your dad’s age, yet I looked up to you literally and physically. My last memory of you standing against a pine, at my brother’s home with views of Long Island Sound, aiming your pee at the tree. You were the pine you peed on. You were the sputtering car engine hugging the tree you peed on moments ago. I pointed to the crescent moon. “Wow,” you said, rolling your leaves, “let’s read Das Kapital.” Nearly 10 years after your childhood chum, my nephew, was killed in Afghanistan, you went from your basement to au petit coin retrouvé or, depending on mood, au petit coin perdu — your Acura parked in a shuttered garage of your home in Scarsdale. You reclined on the driver’s seat, popped a pill of Topamax to dumbfound the snakes in your mind, chased the pill with a gulp of Perrier and to warm up the car, you gunned the engine.

For R. Q.  25 December 1972 —17 March 2001

By Rafiq Kathwari / @brownpundit