Too Soon the Hero

We were eleven

the year Jimmy our leader,

who ran the fastest,

climbed the treetop’s highest branches,

raced his bike off Miller’s pier,

double-dared back every dare,

started to turn invisible,

his skin becoming a thin sheet

clinging to a frame of brittle bones.

That day we went to his house,

and his mom said he couldn’t come out,

we looked at her puzzled and asked,

You mean like, forever?

I remember how she closed her eyes

and turned away like something inside her

had broken or flown away.

As we walked back down their sidewalk,

the day waiting ripe as summer corn,

our hearts little crumpled things,

their curtains drawn tight

like there wasn’t any life inside,

like they had all turned invisible,

I looked back up to Jimmy’s window,

there was our hero waving goodbye.

Robert Kokan

Robert Kokan has had poems published in The Windy Hill Review, Avocet, Yellow Mama, and Jerry Jazz Musician. He is a past student of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop and The Poetry People, working with the late Phil Zwiefel at UW-Waukesha.

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