Crossing Wabash on State, heading toward Michigan
I’m watching a bird, too small to be a gull
probably a swallow, swooping towards the river
at two in the afternoon, the morning chill receding
“Timmy, hey Timmy, over here.”
It could be anyone she’s calling, but
I think it’s me so I make it a point to ignore
She stood and waddled toward me, arms open.
“Timmy, where’d you go. It’s been so long.
They told me you died. They were wrong, I knew.
You’re back. Come let me look at you.”
I should hurry past, but her sadness was heavy.
“Please, Timmy, don’t leave me again, my heart’s
been broken so long, so very long and I’ve been
damning God every day for doing such a thing.
but you’re here. God has forgiven me.”
Walking toward her I said, “I’m not Timmy.”
She wasn’t crying, but her dark, eyes were wet.
She looked so worried, so afraid, so hurt
It was right to tell her “I’m not your son.”
“‘Course you are. I know. I’m sorry. It’s Timothy.
Even when you was little you didn’t like Timmy.
Nobody listened. Even then you was so grown up.
You’re lookin’ the same as you always did.”
“When was the last time you saw your son?”
“Oh my boy, you couldn’t forget that, the tears.
You didn’t want to leave your poor mama, I knew.
And Korea’s such God forsaken, but you’re here.
“Give your Momma a hug, Timmothy. It’s been too long.”
I gave her a hug. She smelled of stale things,
cigarettes, wet cardboard, and orange peels.
“Gotta run, mom, but I’ll see you tomorrow.
Maybe it was a cruel thing to do, maybe not.
For the next month or so I avoided that place
I hoped she was happy thinking she saw her son
but I felt bad she was never going to see him again.
As I walked away she called, “Timmy remember this”
and she started singing. “Peg o’my heart
I love you, don’t let us part
I love you, I always knew it would be you…”
I remembered a friend back in Viet Nam.
Something had exploded behind him knocking
him to the ground, unconscious.
Shrapnel scattered across his back.
I looked him up when I got out.
He was mostly okay, with a little limp,
but couldn’t remember any of it.
Funny I remembered his name. It was Tim.