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Every July I'd come to visit you,
each step I took bringing me closer to the ocean.
It was you,
my rescuer, my hero,
whisking me away from my troubles
if only for a month.
It was a time when the fireflies danced
and the teachers lay dormant,
when the days were endless
and the nights were starry,
when the sea stretched so wide I thought I'd fall over,
when we were so inseparable people couldn't tell us apart
even as a boy and a girl.
It was a time when you were still my bestest friend.
When we were four
sitting on the porch
and our legs swinging over the edge
so they didn't touch the ground
and you leaned over to kiss my cheek
saying Now we were gonna be married
just so I know,
But then your mom came out with the lemonade
and got all mushy
so I punched you in the arm.
When we were seven
and it was the hottest day of our lives
and we were sweating away
and giggling like maniacs
your blue eyes shining with excitement
because no one else was out
and we lined up Crayola crayons all along the sidewalk
and a magnifying glass melted them into
the most beautiful colors
and the days merged together
like Crayola colors
melting on a hot sidewalk...
When we were nine
and you followed your big brother around
and I followed you,
and we called your mom Deidre, because
that was what Bobby,
who was in high school and knew everything,
at least until Deidre decided
she was tired of living...
You didn't come out of her room for a week
until I told you,
Come run with me,
so you did.
We ran like there was no tomorrow,
two Crayola colors running side by side...
When we were eleven
and it rained all July
and you asked me who was my best friend
and I said, You, why?
You told me I was too
and you made me promise to
remember you, so I did
as you took a needle to my finger
and then to yours
and they touched
and we became united in friendship for eternity.
Later, I could feel my finger beat-beating
and you becoming a part of me
fusing like Crayola colors
bleeding into each other...
When we were fourteen
and we were at the beach
building the biggest sand castle in the history of histories
and I stared at you
because for a moment
you looked different
with your tan skin sending off heat
and your strong tan arms crafting your monument
and you looked up at me
and asked why I stopped working
but I didn't respond
because my mind was racing with crazy thoughts
and feelings I'd never known for you
and I wished you had kissed me then
instead of ten years before...
When we were fifteen
walking on the trail alone
and you pulled out a smoke to light it
and I smacked it away,
but you just pulled out a new one
and when you finished, another one
right after the other
and all summer long
it didn't stop
so I finally gave up trying
because you never ran out, it was like you had
a bottomless box of Crayola sticks,
all gray and yellow and black...
When we were sixteen
and your face wasn't yours
your words weren't you
and your eyes were too big for your sunken face
and one day I found you smoking,
and for a second you looked like a kid
who got caught for coloring on the walls.
But then you looked down
and didn't say a thing
and right then I saw the spitting image of your mother
like you didn't care anymore...
When we were seventeen
and you and your dad and Bobby
up and left in your rackety van
and migrated to the Plains
no more Julys with you.
What happened to blood siblings?
What happened to forever?
When I was twenty-one,
you came back to the sea
in a big wooden casket.
Your blood stopped in you
but was still beat-beating in me.
And just before they
lowered you into the ground,
your face was peaceful,
a face that had never been yours
when you were alive–
The blue-eyed genius
putting crayons to death by magnifying glass
The dedicated worker
creating your fortress with tan and loving arms
The washed-out addict
as I last saw you alive
even though you were already dead inside.
You left me
with your pale gray face
not staying to find out what happens
when you leave those Crayola crayons
too long out in the sun,
that the wax runs out
until there's no more left
no more tears to cry
so that there's just the paper shell...