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   for the boy in row 5

At the edge of the sky, there is a crimson slash 
seen through the leafy scrolling of trees that soldier 
the perimeter of the lake. Overhead there is only 
gray, as in the war zone of my heart where there have 
been far too many casualties. Lamplight in a window,
abruptly extinguished, takes out what illuminated
a mid-November Crape Myrtle, already aflame

with leaves destined to fall; yet, it rises regally
red in royal transformation, before the dark comes. Then,
with no preamble, a carnelian blush spreads 
the clouds as if punctured with a pin.   There is always
the unexpected. So, Take heart.  "Be of good cheer,"
parting words from my dying friend, Cyndy, from her 
hospital bed.  "Be there when I come," I reply.

Even so, these days, I cannot stop grieving for the lost 
and missing.  At noon Mass on Sundays, a boy, four or five, 
heavy glasses dominating a small face beneath a luxurious
crown of curls--the image of my dark haired, sweet-armful child 
of the past--sits on the floor in safety between his grand-
parents' chairs. He's busy with his books and toys, until he's 
told it's time to go to the priest at the altar, and they

help him to his feet.  Come, he will, but not alone--
clasping in his two hands his most necessary toys, soldiers, 
maybe; centurions, maybe; the protection of a Praetorian
Guard, talismans, amulets, with which he would not
part.  As for myself, I have none of these, not of plaster, 
not of flesh, but if I could hold this boy in my arms, 
I believe he would heal my heart


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