I saw him at Target, wearing the red vest, collecting the shopping carts.
He looked familiar, but no, couldn’t be– his hair was salted with gray.
And then I remembered my own hair.
He ran on the cross country team back in high school, and so did I.
He had special needs.
(In one way or another, don’t we all?)
He smiled big, always, and he walked and ran on his toes.
He seemed to forgive people very easily their derisive laughter.
I paid for my household items, pushing my daughters ahead of me in the cart.
I wanted to say hi, but my heart sped up and I didn’t know my approach, and my moment slipped away in the crowd of shoppers.
I was left alone with the memories of the crunch of gravel under our team’s thudding feet, and the scent of overripe orchards that we breathed, in-in-out, as we ran the roads of small-town Danville in the mid 1980’s.
All of it,
those moments and miles stringing from
my forgotten corners,
seemed to go up
like the shushing of sprinklers
arcing over the football field
and evaporating into the September heat.