Four Poems on Mentoring by Julie Gard
I. Alex’s Photos, June 29
That’s a beautiful middle of
nowhere. You show us what you find
there–your sister in her I can’t breathe
t-shirt, your grandma with her arms
full of flowers. A chipped
shelf of jarred pickles. You
are always taking pictures.
Of petunias so red,
I could positively eat them.
In the video you post, a butterfly opens its wings.
Six seconds. A butterfly opens its wings.
II. In the Key of Water
Thank you for sharing the lake with music,
a soundtrack to blue-green waves.
The Girl in Red, Tracy Chapman, King Princess,
Hobo Johnson, chords bouncing off rock
as we float in hammocks
lashed to wild trees.
Up the hill a ways, someone has pitched
a tent they’re living in. Sneakers by the door.
This summer no one’s safe, but there are
degrees of difference. You know
all about this, and so does the
water. So do your songs.
Your family moves around
more than mine
but mine does too.
Next time we hang out
we should make a map. Here are
the ancestral paths.
Mine were chosen.
Yours were forced.
You say you want a van
and the open road.
To be the one to choose
to see it all.
IV. Graffiti Ethics
It’s good to leave a mark,
to make the place you live.
Mostly we agree on things,
but sometimes we debate. I can always
see your point, and next to it,
the calm arched surface of an
untouched underpass. Then your
peace sign on it: also beautiful.
I wish for you an endless
wall, a mural as expansive
as your heart. You and your friends
could paint the world, day and night.
It’s just–a quiet stretch of stone.
I like some things empty.