Brian Patrick Heston: An Echo

How you once nursed your Guinness
listening to the Phillies on the scarred
mahogany radio you bought before

the war: speakeasy days before gram,
asbestos days on ships rickety as planets
before the old house of Christmases

and Easters. In my dream you stroll
ungodly hours, a broken lamp buzzing
as a boy forms from above.

You watch his twisted descent
through stratosphere, through cloud
canyons, until he lands in a thud

on the sidewalk, bony arms
and legs splayed, wings charred to ash,
breath lodged in his lungs. You struggle

to your knees, Guinness in one hand,
hammer in the other. After putting your ear
to his chest, you breathe through his blue lips;

only the wheeze of your own air
comes back. That’s when you search
shadow windows for another pair of hands

not as jittery, but every curtain
is closed. So you lean again, keep at it until
your lungs are finally spent. Then a sound

does come, at first faint on the breeze.
You tap your hearing aid to be sure
then hear it clear, the broken guttural song.



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