I am a nerd and you are a jock,
but we’ve known each other since forever.
We always manage to bump into one another
in the crowded transition from Fifth to lunch.
Most of the time, you’d start with “Hi,”
and I’d reply, “Hey, how you doing?”
You’d nod and say, “I’m doing just fine.”
And then we’d walk to our different lives.
But today, I said the cautious “Hi”
in that hallway, empty and weatherbeaten gray.
You shrugged and tried to walk away
but the manners you learned
from your dear, late mother made you
murmur back softly: “Hey.”
“So, how are you doing?” I asked.
“Fine,” you had mumbled.
“After all that has happened?”
You nodded again, attempted to smile,
and traveled your beaten life again.
But before you could escape my sight,
I asked, “Are you really okay?”
You stopped. You turned around.
You squeezed the straps of your backpack.
You smiled, a cascaded tear.
With nerve, you said, “I’m okay.”
And then, you left.
And there was nothing I could do,
even if I was fast enough to catch you, to hug you,
to mourn with you. I knew her too, you know.
But of course, you knew.
We used to be brothers.
But now things have changed.
If you were okay, then I was okay,
with us still staying our separate ways.
But you are not okay. Your cries can’t wash out lies.
You are not okay. There wasn’t even a goodbye.