Tom

byNigel Debonnaire©

A little boy in a tuxedo, looking quite debonnaire,
Jimmy wriggles like any confined 16 month old
and my Mom takes him to the lobby to burn off his energy.
The preacher drones on in a language I don’t understand,
I can’t see him ‘cause the Universe is drowning.

Tom and I shared a station in Biology lab,
doing stinky things and probing green globs of goo.
Tom was a Greek God with blue eyes and brown hair,
a laugh that brightened the world,
Tom-not-Tommy.
We looked forward to seeing each other daily at the last hour:
goofing off when Mr. Harms wasn’t looking,
taunting Billy Taylor, making faces at each other,
keeping each other laughing while waiting for the last bell.
One spring afternoon we left early, went past the suburbs
to a farm pond to collect fresh specimens.

We played in the brown water, laughing, splashing,
ignoring our lab assignment,
wet bare skin lines working their timeless magic.
He looked at me with his magic eyes,
kissed me quickly as if he’d been dared, then quickly again,
I held his head in place the third time and caught him.
Biology took over: skin against skin,
mouth against mouth, hands clasping, grasping,
hips grinding and dancing and celebrating creation.
Didn’t need to see paradise by the dashboard lights,
it was all around us.

We tried couplehood while my belly swelled,
sharing an apartment, pre-marital counseling.
Couldn’t put up with his attitude,
he was such a thoughtless prick at times.
So we gave up couplehood while sharing an apartment
to raise our baby boy.

Tom saw other women; I saw other men.
Tom called him ‘Bubba’, and Jimmy
ran to meet him laughing at the door every day after work.
Tom was everyday sunshine, infectious glee,
dangerous pranks and devotion.
In the darkness of my hopes, I dared not admit
longing for him to open the door to my heart again
as he passed to his solitary room.

A night with a buddy, a night too late,
a moment’s distraction at high speed
and the universe changed forever.

The preacher’s finished and a warbling old lady
tortures the Lord’s Prayer accompanied by fumbling fingers.
Jimmy comes back, and gets upset
that his mommy and Nana and Papa can’t stop crying.
I hug Jimmy hard, ignoring his squirming protests.
I let him go and he sits solemnly on my lap,
looks up at me with Tom’s sage gleeful eyes,
and smiles.

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