On Hearing of an Old Boyfriend’s Death

For Don Short (1957-2008)

you were raking leaves
on the Maine coast.

And then you weren’t.

You stopped
to listen to traffic on the interstate,
children a few streets over.

North wind carried sharp sea tang –
still a surprise

after decades of decay-scented prairie.

This led you back
to the boy-man you once were:
assured, jock, flirt, tease.

You smiled that smile
and scraped the last pile of what was
into a black bag.

Rubbing aching arms,
you dropped
just short of the kitchen door
and the woman who shaped
meatballs for your supper.

You lay there,
searching for a wider sky.

But all you saw
was this dark tangle of trees –
something else you never got used to.

But what do I know?

No, in this last day’s shelter
you heard oaks and sugar maples
let go a great sigh
and shower you down

with golden leaves.


Like this line from the obit:

“Don always had a gift of gab. There wasn’t anyone he wouldn’t talk to, or have a kind word for.”


14 thoughts on “On Hearing of an Old Boyfriend’s Death

  1. I’m sorry I didn’t even know about this. Don’s dad and my mom were first cousins. One thing that that side of the family share is death with sudden heart attacks. Thinking back I was in the hospital that week myself (not with heart problems.) You have a gift Julie, thanks for sharing.


    1. Hi Mavis. Never knew you were cousins. I remember that it was so weird to think he was gone – just like that. I hadn’t seen him since the summer after senior year.


  2. OMG, I hope someone will remember me someday with such beautiful words. Sudden death is shocking but so much better in my mind than the long good-bye.


  3. Hello Julia,
    May Don rest in peace and blessings to his family and yours. Nice to meet you and this was a lovely tribute for a friend from your past. Thank you for stopping by and visiting.
    ~Peace be with you.


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