I see them still, their faces and heads moving above hurrying
shoulders of shoppers and dog walkers along Madison, Fifth or
Lexington, they appear only in crowded places at stoplights, cross-

walks, never looking at me for long, but glancing back furtively,
reminding that we’ll always have those life-long connections that
never breaks from those bonding school years, when forced

together like prisoners in chalky, crowded rooms, locker hallways
smelling of balm and sandy schoolyards with pull-up bars, before heading
out for the quarter-mile track. Always smiling Kendra, who sat next to me

in biology, where we studied diagrams of sea plants and fruiting trees. We
decided we’d study marine biology down at USF or some school out on
the west coast, but first, she said she was going to see the middle east.

I remember I asked her if she couldn’t wait a while, at least, finish a two
year degree at the community college before heading out for boot camp,
but she said the time had come to learn how to shoot rifles and pistols.

And Anita, who floated waves up from Cuba with her family when she was
just twelve; I knew her for eight school years before she called me during
Christmas holidays and said she’d joined up to pay off some debts.

Now, I wish some Freud or Jung would explain the difference between what
it means when I see those haggard faces, as they hurry along Fifth, or
in winter, down the sunny side of Broadway, never speaking, only glancing

back; still I hear their silent voices say, “Despite the decades, you still lament
we did not return, and now in this covid crisis, you think you will join us, but do
not hurry! We’ve known worse places than crowded streets of Manhattan,
and do not doubt—there’ll be plenty of time to meet again in eternity!

Reed Venrick Venrick usually writes and publishes poems with nature and/or psychological themes.