“I’ll Catch a Ride”

Just days ago, I dropped him off this way
At one of those disorganized, impromptu
Teenage soirees. I offered to come back
Later to pick him up, but mothers should,
As much as possible, remain unseen
For these intensely private, perilous years.
As usual, he said he would get home
Somehow, and so he did, almost on time.

This morning we drive into Forest Lawn.
Again he’s vague. I recognize some faces
As he slips out to join his edgy peers,
A clan of gypsies, wearing suits and beads
And shades. They puff their smokes like movie stars,
Embrace like Europeans, some in tears.

It wasn’t drugs or gangs or suicide
Or driving recklessly that killed their friend,
Adam, the drummer, at eighteen—but cancer.
Incomprehensible and cruel, I thought
When I was told, and my son’s quiet shrug
Spoke loud about the uselessness of words;
So now I watch him learning on his own
Among the monuments and epitaphs.

I’m only in the way, so I move on.
Morning evaporates above the green,
Impeccable, severely watered vistas,
As June gives up its gloom to sudden heat.

Some fool has left a frantic little dog
Alone and yelping in a warming car.
The doors are locked. It’s no business of mine.
I hate to leave my son in this strange place,
And wonder how he’ll get back home this time.