I walk down my block
and then take a right turn.
Two more blocks
and I’ll be with Brian.
For the first time
in a long time,
I know he’ll be there
waiting for me.

I sit down on the grass next to him.
He has flowers,
but I know they’re
not for me.
I wonder who gave them to him,
but I don’t ask.

I tell Brian about my day.
I say, “I saw your dad
at the supermarket.
I didn’t
talk to him —
it’s not like he knows who I am,
and even if he did,
I wouldn’t
know what to say.

I watched him
take things off the shelves,
look them over,
and then put them back.
There was almost nothing
in his cart.
I wonder if he’s always been like that,
or just lately.”
I say, “I miss you.”
I ask if he’s missed me too,
then wait for his answer.

If that squirrel runs up that tree,
then his answer is yes.
If it stays on the grass,
his answer is no.

The squirrel doesn’t
move,
and my breath catches in my throat.
After a moment,
it zips up the tree.
I smile and lie down
next to Brian.
I wish he could
hold me
like he used to,
but he doesn’t.

The warm sun makes me drowsy
and I fall asleep on my side
next to Brian.
When I wake up, grass is imprinted
on my arm and leg.
I brush myself off,
but Brian doesn’t
move.
I say, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I reach out to touch him,
and my fingers make contact
with words:

BRIAN DENNIS
DIED AGE SEVENTEEN
BELOVED SON AND FRIEND