I knew him briefly as Jules,
conscientious friend from the Johnson war years
who roamed his opalescent silver-blue Jag
in a time-space we named “The Great Open Range.”
He lived in a cabin on a frozen lake,
snake-sitting his sister’s taut “Baby-Boy”
while she waitressed the season in the Carribean.
We had take-out Surf ‘n Turf: one fork, one knife, one cup of wine.
Dodging the draft of the pines required some intimacy.
One night, driving around, he talked about moving to Canada.
As I lit a cigarette, we were struck. The spoked wheels spun
and slid us around. Jules’ eyes shadowed over as the doorlight turned on.
He was out and running.
The kid who threw the snowball with a rock core
had been caught and held against the car, begged us not to shoot
as he watched Jules’ hand reach behind the driver’s seat,
and into a basket of blankets. He was older than I expected, crying,
as “Baby-Boy” breathed down his neck, ready to constrict
to keep himself warm. I remember asking: Do I object,
plead for the punk’s release? Do I believe we could have been killed?
What don’t I know that he knows?
The kid climbed the snowbank the same minute Jules let go,
shouting into the night: “Hey, it’s death next time.”
He drove me home, then down the street like the speed of light.