Dirk McDermott

Fellow Scout who could climb and touch 
the gold ball at the top of the flagpole, 
and do math three grades ahead 
under his crewcut. I need a calculator 
to figure how long since I spoke his name.
How long since I offered my own blue
neckerchief to wipe his always runny nose.
But last night in smoke, steam, and rain
beside a wrecked train I told him how happy 
I felt in the igloo we’d built, how handsome 
a cub he’d been crawling on all fours
up the twilit tunnel to me. In a hoarse 
whisper and never looking at his face.

Copyright © 2023 by Patrick Donnelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.