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          The Secrets of White
          By Tom Ross

          We sat in the highest bleacher
          Because you always liked to be close to the sky.
          I wanted to take your hand,
          But I knew you did not like to be touched,
          And yes, I knew why.
          Your face was white as paper, as a ghost,
          White as the walls of the hospital room where we had just seen our father die.

          The track beneath us was empty
          But for two lone runners who would not stop.
          One was chasing something;
          The other was being chased.
          You and I just ran in place

          Covering and covering the same ground,
          Again and again I tried to answer yes to the question
          That you had not dared to ask.
          I wanted to tell you it was okay
          That you wished him dead for reasons you could not remember
          And Christ, how beautiful you were
          Though you always tried to hide it.

          I should have told you that I also had secrets,
          And the shame that sat on my chest
          Was white as the center of the hottest fire,
          As the plastic hangers in the closet that I never entered again,
          White as the balcony ledge you stepped off of six months later.

          In 1983, I was seven years old,
          But I still knew what the blood meant.
          The closet, where I spent my days hiding,
          Jostled by umbrellas, quilts, galloshes,
          I was Indiana Jones
          Trapped in a tomb by the Nazis.
          I was an astronaut, a superhero,
          Until the day I peered through the keyhole
          And watched him leave your room.

          He looked too scared to be my daddy, my superhero.
          His face was white as the ghostly moon,
          As the ice you went to get for him
          Seventeen years later when he lay in the hospital bed dying,
          White as the pillow I held against his face while you were gone.
          When he left your room there had been blood on his trousers.

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Document last modified on: 11/05/2004

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