Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

For Ronald (Speed) Bordeaux

by Linda Umans


I met you long ago in fiction
(Carson McCullers to be precise)
a school kid like me
sitting at a desk
in overalls you were
the Carolina sun at two o’clock.
Maybe you were struggling;
maybe playful.
I see a smile
but it could be fleeting.
What replaces it
I couldn’t see.

Now I learn
Rowland, my friend,
also in overalls
(I’ve seen the photos)
actually knew you
was your actual classmate
said how you got your name
said how you ran from bullies
pursuing year to year
in the small, smalltown school
irony along with suffering
(Speed meaning speed)
and now he hears you died.

I missed the life between
while imagining elsewhere.

I’ve had an idea of you all this time.
You existed a little bit with me
all this time.