The lake still draws him
as if not a day has passed since 1963.
He announces himself
with crackling footsteps on dry needles.
His eyes are grateful for the sliced-up sun
between the pines.
That shallow breath is the price he pays.
He’s dressed no different
than if he was seated on his porch.
His needs demand a jacket
that he shrinks inside
and his favorite old levis,
born at a time of surer legs.
His face fills out with ghosts.
As he steps onto the beach at last,
he’s immediately aware
of how young the world has grown.
No knobby legs here.
No skin, leathery and brown-spotted.
Some kids splash in the cool waters.
Half-naked teenagers bask like turtles on rocks.
The heat is no longer the ally it was.
He finds shade
where his trembling hand
can wipe clean his liquid brow.
A dog skitters by,
its leash flapping like a gullwing
and he reaches out automatically,
grabs the collar,
clenches fingers around it
as its momentum threatens to stoop his
shoulders even more.
A young woman,
running and crying out,
is headed in his direction.
She’ll thank him
for keeping hold on her “bad little boy.”
will pretend he exists
for the time it takes.