The DJ played a song about suicide at a Christmas party.
Flashing lights, tinsel, cigarette smoke, knit sweaters, red cups,
and a life unconquered.
There was a sudden, unspoken consensus to slow down and
ask for the names of the people we’d
been dancing with.
How strange to think that we had laughed into the
shoulders of people we didn’t even know.
Patrick, your eyes are green and I think you had the
sadness when you were sixteen.
I can tell because your baby mint irises were
glossy like marbles when the
chorus picked up
and you played all the lyrics
across your lips without so much as blinking.
My father use to sleep in the bedroom
above that sticky beer basement and I wondered to myself
if he had ever cried there in 1987.
His mother drank too much and his
father was always busy.
Did someone have to remind him that someday he’d have a
daughter with brown hair and his smile?
I so badly wanted to climb the stairs and
visit his ghost and tell it to wait a little longer.
Buzzed and down,
we all stood stalk still, faking engrossment in conversations
we weren’t hearing.
Everything was second to the thoughts about the
three a.m. sorrow that our best friend didn’t understand
on that very lonesome June night when things
went too far.
I watched the smoke swirl as the refrain picked up
and someone softly talked about the scar from the
I.V. they had in their arm.
Sipping from my cup, I nodded my head along to the
bass drum beat and raised my hand with everyone else’s
(in a moment of so much loneliness, there was
comfort in the empty space of air).
My body was swaying and my mind was with
sixteen-year-old Patrick and
the time my dad spent alone on his old bed-set.
The sound of tomorrows and
thoughts of battles won
rang like cymbals in the worst way when the song was over
and the room of fifty seven people