Keeping Warm — Poem by John C. Mannone

I heard it on the news: Nor’easter pummeled Baltimore last night,
wondered if you were okay, son, or if you were wrapped up
in some alley corner trying to keep warm in an igloo you might
have fashioned from those snowdrifts. Or maybe you stayed warm
in the county jail after backtalkin’ a policeman before he searched
your tattered clothes and found Jamaican hash stashed in your jeans.

Never quite understood why you never came south where the weather is warmer, to your father, a little warmer, too.
Don’t you remember how we huddled in the winter cabin?
You were nine; with brother and sister, too.

We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years
all at once — stuffed chicken, sage and thyme, pine tree sapling stuck
in a jug of rocks, tinsel reflecting your smiles.
Later we slept, by embers stoked in the fireplace, wearing toboggans to keep heat in.

I never left you, you know; there just wasn’t any way I could reach outthe airport window, grab the airplane,
hold it still — the one you were on when your mother took you away. Never got over the guilt of letting you go, but tried coming closer to where you are, to keep warm.

I dreamt about you last night; I was hugging you as my Dad did me.
I’d forgiven him, you know, for leaving this world for another place
a little warmer, a little kinder, than where he left me — in Baltimore,
where you are now.

John C. Mannone
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