On this fiftieth anniversary of Harold’s death, I offer two poems, one from 1992 and the other from 2022.
Revisiting the fields of promise, listening to Harold If I could write to you what would I say? This lament is for me driving home tonight in my silver sports car, not so unlike you, wanting for one moment to sail out there, over the film of fear that settles like dew on the promise of green. Heading off to college, wise beyond your time, you left me holding the gifts: a keen eye, an open heart, a quick mind passed them to the child who donned your gravity as surely as your oxford cloth shirts, poised on the cusp the world wide open and you sailed into that tree in one stunning moment, it was over; you were free, high above the fields of promise. I used to cringe at the thought of your terror the moment you lost control but tonight the wind whispers your relief, the exhilaration of letting go. The wallet was still damp in our mother's hands long after the firemen extinguished the flames, you floating across darkness pulling indigo from the sky, head thrown back in laughter released from the prospects of what you could do, long gusts across morning high above the fields of wildflowers blooming you beckon me to dream myself into waves of color that dance with you who I followed everywhere. This time I stay behind to listen, at long last to the peals of your laughter, travelling through the whistle that carries the wind. 1992
A lifetime It’s been thirty years since last I wrote what I might say. I could tell you—after wondering so long which yard you sailed across In the darkness—out of the blue Holly Kyle sent your death notice and a yellowed article about the accident found in her mother’s papers— how I spent hours trying to find the family of James Ira Trotter who lived in the house with the scorched tree. Like you, it’s gone, removed— The whole lawn re-landscaped, house razed and replaced, no sign of you anywhere, no lingering depression in the soft earth recalling your presence, no tractor trails from childhood when you and Roundtree rode the red Massey-Ferguson, bush-hogging fields in the summer sun. No stray bits of hay left from the day the truck you drove lost its load, bales scattering roadside, yet somehow this life bears it all, a pentimento of terrain formed by shifting plates beneath tender ground. Fifty years ago I could not imagine life continuing without you. Today, half a century ribboning out beneath my feet, your youthful visage still smiles from the photo that graced our mother’s fridge for years— placed there because that’s where she could always find you, looking for a snack. Skin dotted by age, hair salted gray, would you know me at sixty-three, when I would give anything to see you now? What stories would emerge from inside the hollow place you left me, hallowed? 20 August 2022