The Back of a Young Boy’s Neck

He tosses another stone at the waves.
I don’t see it fall—only the back
of his neck, so small and birdlike it makes
me inhale deep—in that moment I’m struck

by the dusting of sand on his left ear,
the slightest glimmer of late summer sweat,
the little boy shoulders—strangers to fear—
and downy skin in the cleft of his neck.

Arresting—this stolen glimpse of joy,
and melancholy as summer’s last day—
the innocence of a four year old boy
is fleeting as sunshine that soon goes away.

Time will leather his fawn colored skin
and the untanned patch left by his cut hair,
his neck and back bear the weight of a man’s
thoughts, and the heft will test him for years.

To the east and west, his shoulders will grow
stiff and angular, branches on trees
for life to bow with its heavy snow
and season the boy with his back to me.


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