Grilled Cheese

They say you are addicted, a drunkard, a user, crippled in body

and soul, but I don’t believe they understand.

 

My life is scattered with gifts of your love, disks you collected

for me, music from far corners. Your handwriting, neat and

unmistakable adorns my every niche – the drawers and albums

of my years.

 

When you went away I closed my mind to all that. You traveled

to far places, did strange things I only heard of via gossip,

bitterness, recriminations. My letters went unanswered and I

preferred to think somehow they never reached you. Years lengthened

into gulfs of silence. I tried to hide the pain, almost succeeded.

But every now and then a memory of your childhood drifts again

across my inner vision.

 

We were on holiday together, far from home, visiting a friend

across the ocean. We’d traveled to the center of a busy city, by bus

and subway, changing lines several times. A hungry vegetarian youth

you came across a roadside grill shack. You requested I ask the grill man

to clean the hot plate from hamburger fragments before toasting your

cheesy bun and I shamefully refused.  And then you threw the money

down and ran away. I waited anxiously for your return, minutes passed,

turned into hours. Eventually a phone call told me that you that you’d

found your way back to my friend’s house, somehow retracing all those

bus and subway stations.

 

That was many years ago. Last week I lay in hospital when suddenly

after decades of silence came your phone call wishing me recovery.

 

They say you are addicted, lost and crippled but I don’t believe them.

Come, let’s take a trip downtown, I’ll buy you a toasted bun dripping

with melted cheese. And if you ask me to get the man to clean the grill

before he makes your meal, I’ll volunteer to scrape the platter clean myself.

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© Johnmichael Simon

2014

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