Bobby - Poem by Max Reif
That summer my second wife and I
lived on the state road in rural
North Carolina in the 6-room farmhouse
I got for $100 a month, amid
the tobacco fields, which by the way
have lovely, pink flowers in the spring,
and oh, yes, that spring, too,
the beauty of the white
birds on the juice-green
meadow outside my study
all but made me faint.
Summer was different. Heat rose
from the road's black asphalt
in visible, radiating waves.
Every day around noon,
looking down that road
that parted fields and woods
as far as you could see, we'd spy
a tiny figure, who would slowly grow,
trudging past our house
half an hour later, then slowly
shrink till he disappeared
in the opposite direction.
One day I decided to ask him
where he was walking every day.
'My name is Bobby, ' he replied.
'My daddy's sick. I walk
ten miles there and ten back
every day to give him his medicine.'
After that, we'd wave when Bobby passed.
A couple weeks later one day
breathing very hard when he got
to our place, he collapsed.
Thinking he might die, I drove him
to the Tabor City hospital,
half-carrying him in
to the Emergency Room, then to the room
they admitted him to, remaining there,
holding this man I hardly knew.
'Jesus loves you and I love you! '
I told him over and over again.
Bobby didn't die, it wasn't
his heart after all, they said.
Some kind of indigestion.
Calling back those days
is like remembering
heroes at the dawn of time.
The world was different then.
Or I was young.
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