(for Christopher)

Days are spent forcing the connection, or
failing to make the connection,
between the pun-savoring boy
and the name of the man in the death notices.
Like quantum physics,
Angry Birds, and the notion
that dissent is only patriotic for some,
I can’t make sense of it.
These days I am deliberately haunted,
fully occupied with my own hero
worship, knowing (because I knew the boy)
that here is no one I could have
rescued. Here is no one who is owed
anything from me, let alone explanations,
or fantasies of reclamation. There is no one
point to go back to, to change the course
of events, to ascertain the exact moment
where an exchange could have stopped
me from reading his obituary.
You don’t have that power, I hear him tell me.
Why are you apologizing when we
haven’t spoken in 15 years? I nod.
I understand that I have made him a
phantom of circumstance, who listens
just to be polite.
The boy becomes the man
becomes the spectre in the film
I play in my head.
But there is no real possession.

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