Toy soldiers, plastic sheriff’s badge,
a little round compass. The tiny treasures
of two little boys who joined this life, together.
Not twins, but same-age cousins so close
they might as well have been.
A roll of caps for playing army
when cap-gun kids dodged bullets
or died dramatic deaths.
A cigarette, for tough times ahead;
Photographs, seashells from trips
to the beach, a toy skateboard.
Little things, summing up a lifetime
of memories shared with others and
all those yet to come
in the life that follows this one
Where one went, the other followed, saying
“Don’t worry, bro; I got your back like a dorsal fin!”
and they always did – until one made his way
to that darkest destination,
where the other couldn’t follow .
They always held hands as children, changed to
manly play as they grew; rough and tumble brawls
leaving broken furniture strewn in their wake.
Two young men; who laughed as hard
as they fought, and repeated it all again,
the next day and the next.
Suddenly, one is left behind
with nothing to hold but a wooden box:
symbols of a brotherhood that ended far too soon.
Sit on the bench marking ground
that your cousin lies under, silent
for the first time, in twenty-four short years.
Pore over gifts that others have left.
He was loved by so many;
every day brought new surprises.
Laugh, cry or wonder at the significance
of the things left in that box.
Today, someone stole those memories.
If they wanted the box, it was just
a simple, wooden treasure chest.
Trinkets could have been dumped out.
What good are they to someone else,
who’ll see our treasures as trash?
I would feel angry, but my heart’s too flat
already. I spent all my emotion on pain.
First, the never-dulling ache of losing Ty;
then the sharp sting, as I count
the friends who were really there for me,
when I wasn’t fun anymore, because
I couldn’t stop the reeling in my head.
Goodbye box. Goodbye fair-weather friends.
No one can take our memories.
Just the tangible things that triggered them.
I almost pity you…but you don’t deserve it.