RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – Nov. 18, 2015

My Old Friend Lou

Milton Ehrlich

Every time I walk to the library
I pass my old friend’s house
who doesn’t live there,
or anywhere anymore.
The house looks the same
except for the lawn,
now emerald green,
neatly mown and trimmed,
devoid of former brown patches,
crabgrass and dandelion.
Orphaned, a deprived child,
a recycling pioneer, Lou saved
bits of string and everything
he could scrounge, shopping
at yard sales for his wardrobe,
furnishings and mounds of tools
piled topsy-turvy in his musty shop.
He had a clip on toothpaste,
insuring no paste was ever wasted.
His rusty van with over
three-hundred-thousand miles
no longer sits in the driveway.
Now a new family of kids are jumping rope,
and careening back and forth on skateboards.
I’d always stop to say hello and watch
him tinker and putter around,
tightening spokes on a Raleigh girls bike
he claimed was easier to mount since he retired.
We used to bike ten miles every other day,
20 years or more, riding round and round
a park exactly ten times measured by clothes pins
he’d shift back and forth on his handlebar.
As he aged and lost most of his friends,
he’d turn around to look, joking,
“The Grim Reaper might not be far behind.”
He insisted we bike home up the steepest hill
to insure our heart muscles would stay strong.
But days before he turned 80,
in a Cialis induced euphoria,
the Grim Reaper caught up with him.
His heart shattered like the watermelon
that fell off the rack on the back of his bike
when a bungee broke on his way home
from the market one scorching July day.

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