James Cartier

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May He Never Be Forgotten

Rearview Hero

The tears flowed naturally
when Mama Sandy saw the long braids,
the denim fades, the metal,
the shades.

she remembers as I do
how the brethren in leather, in Levi’s,
in boots so lived in
they sing “Home Sweet Home” on a regular basis,
shielded me from harm’s way,
from hate,
from whisperings so ignorant the birds would even stop to shriek.
The not so beloved looks, the jeers,
the inescapable silences and faux pas
just didn’t happen
when you all were around.

Swathed in an affection
never overtly expressed
just knowingly.

Loretta Lynn dreamed up mavericks
couldn’t figure out my hair
but this little black Indian girl was one of theirs-just a little darker
than their Tammys and Robins.

The races, the drives home
in Harry’s, Bobby’s, Tommy’s ride—the hush was golden.
The embrace undeniable.
The acceptance irresistible and thankfully contagious.

100 flags that day
in a sun that seemed indescribable,
Why wasn’t there any sky crying goin’ on?
Because 100 or was it 1,000
tight-jeaned brothers
draped you in their finest,
Local 3.

I thought if I could just tilt my eyes right
I might see you there
with them one last time,
even though
I never never met you-ever, ever.

Saw one of you
when I was considering a stale pretzel buy
on 57th Street
at the Hall of Carnegie’s.
“Of course, I knew him,”
he said without restraint.
Never had any idea
there were electrical warriors
in my backyard of acoustical perfection.
They right beneath me.

It’s in the moments
in between the every now and then
that I get little gifts.
Fixing my weakened lipstick,
turning a corner,
adjusting, finessing a smudgy piece of glass.
I am overcome with a lightness,
a sense of the best timing
and a glimmer of dimples so sweet
honey should just give up trying.

The Harleys’ men,
each one of them
from DC to Prague no matter their tongue,
beam highways of safe passageways
and byways for you.
Forgotten brother has no place in their lexicon,
a sacred dialect.
Bonds like that and these just don’t give
that easily.

The bike men, hogs-men,
have seen to it
that your everlasting tour is paved
with soul-powered light—so strong
that the purest hint of lemon
peeks through from above.

The rearview catches it sometimes.

For James Marcel Cartier, South Tower, 105th Floor
Copyright © 2005 by Adina Li Williams


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