Two Poems By Bruce McCandless

In August he prayed for October, for
relief from the undershirt stuck to his skin
come October he wished it was cooler
wanted snow on black rooftops but when
December deepened he longed for reprieve
from the darkness descending at four
wanted, in April, firefly evenings
that lingered for hours, wanted
whatever was coming, wanted then
had it and found himself wanting again
You came before we’d practiced what to do,
our late-life accident, our only child.
How could you comprehend our fears for you?
A partial list of things you strayed into:
The neighbors’ yard; their porch; the yards beside.
You ran and always we ran after you.
Our sense of dread dug deeper than you knew.
We catalogued your every cough and sigh,
and seldom slept a whole night through.
It sounds ridiculous, and yet it’s true
that when you hurt yourself, your mother cried.
How can I count up all her tears for you?
We hoped it was some passing interlude,
the way your sorrows made us ache inside.
How can you understand our fears for you,
or know the waking dreams you’ve led us through?
You’ve been our joy, our death, our breath, our pride
so long that when you leave, you’ll leave us to
the thousand injured ghosts we raised with you. 

Bruce McCandless is a writer and editor who lives in Austin but grew up in Houston. He’s published poems and stories in a variety of journals and magazines including Seattle Review, Cold Mountain Review, Bayou, and The Texas Observer.

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