For Ethan


For Ethan.

I saw your name today in chalk. And like chalk on the slate wall it will blow away… forgotten.

Do you remember sidewalk chalk?

And on the trolley I made a baby laugh, because they always laugh at me.
As her young mother’s nervousness melted and she, too, was laughing.
I got on the bus with all my bags and fumbled
And noticed the tears on this baby’s face.
“Are you crying? I asked.”
“She has allergies…” her mother said.
And so I sneezed. Once.
And again. (And that made the little girl laugh)
And again.
And again. (Now she is just loosing it.)
And again

And again. (Now mom is laughing.)

“I guess I have allergies, too.”
They laughed.

And for another mile, I mimicked the baby’s expressions to keep her giggling.

“Well, bye bye! Can you say , ‘bye?”” Said the mother as they left the trolley
“b’bye” and she clenched and unclenched her little hand.

And at my stop, I immediately had to do something about my runny nose.

I thought of painting.
I thought of writing.

I thought about what I am feeling.

All for you.

And all the bus rides.

And the joy of making you laugh. With a sneeze or a face…
And who but you could walk this mall and see the absurdities and oddities and laugh?
Who but you would find humor in the busker singing a quarter tone flat?
And I waited for him to breathe enough to push it up to the note…
To just get enough air to make it work.
And it never happened.

“He needs to stand up.” Tim would say.


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