The dust-encrusted crush

Unlike you, kid,
she says,
he never did anything —
just kicked balls
and chased rabbits

At 12 I watched him, 15,
tossing hay off the flatbed —
tanned deltoids,
torn singlet,
low-slung jeans,
calling to the cows

I never got to touch
his dull white scars
or hear his
baby cry

His was the cry of the power tool —
the diamond saw dividing a brick,
the rotating driveshaft sticking out of the back
of the tractor, the three-point linkage

I wrote him imaginary letters,
the dull white voice of the paper
flickering in my hands

Last time I saw him
I was 29 and married
The dust-encrusted crush
shook itself off,
rose and swirled in my head
like a ghost violin,
but there was nothing
we could talk about
Like she said
he’d kicked balls
and chased tails

The door with its old brass hook
where once I’d hung
my cowy heart
stayed shut.

First published in Creatrix

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