At a Barbecue for R.C. One Week After He Is Out of Iraq
He laughs and tosses back another shot of whiskey. There are questions about cousins, how is Lisa doing, she still drinking, did Eddy finally marry that big bitch, heard Monica is in L.A. now. I fill him in, crack open another beer chaser, and tell what stories I can. I am light here, keeping things brief, smiling, avoiding the heat from his skin, the pocks and purple circles that tighten his face, mar it. A curl of scarred flesh lifts up from the collar of his shirt, hanging like a question I can’t ask. And suddenly the food is done, barbeque finished, mom calls out to get the kids ready to eat, and his face fills with an emptiness, jaw loosens and he is muttering now, about kids, something about so many goddamn kids. He asks me if I know what the color of brains really is, and I answer that the ribs are getting cold.