Dusk, from a window I watch
our son, twenty-four, in the backyard
on his knees.
In a dusty tee and Carhartt cap,
he puzzles together
a stone patio, angles the flagstones
and taps each down with a mallet
so nothing shifts.
Silver stone dust rises, surrounds him
as Neil Young warbles a rusty falsetto
from a speaker on the stair:
Every junkie’s like a setting sun.
At seventeen he was lost
in the veins
of New England’s small towns,
sunk in couches of strangers, vanished
into cars and bars and beds
of otherworldy people
who chased the dragon too.
Star-studded student, muscled
high school crew boat boy gone rogue
into bones, picked-off eyebrows, gray
flesh, just barely alive
in the skin of addiction:
straight fentanyl three times a day.
He should be dead.
Where is my son? so many times gripping
my husband’s collar, Where is my son?
When he did come around
we were ready: Narcan pens in our pockets
and purses, drawers, gloveboxes,
in the basement beside his old bins
Inject through his clothes, we were told.
There won’t be time.
We learned to listen
for the death rattle, the throat-gurgling
that signals overdose.
But how lucky we were, never needed
the needles, never needed
to keep him breathing
while we waited for the ambulance
as he did one night
in the grass, hovering over
his girlfriend’s body, pushing
air into her lungs
with his mouth, please please please please please
his tears spilling
through her teeth.
In these last shards
as Neil young repeats
his dark prophecy,
I want to smash that speaker.
This sun won’t set.
Yet I am afraid of statistics, terrified
of time’s quick tick. What if
we lose him
after just getting him back?
Our son gathers his tools
in the pink dust,
and I want to
With my own two hands
hold that sun up, look
longer at this boy turned man,
working so hard
to set things