A reflection on the painting by Eric Fischl
Georgia gets hotter each night.
I dip my toes into the creek
Out back beside his family’s barn.
We walk side-by-side
Not minding the mosquitoes and
The dirt caking around our ankles.
I dwell on his drawl
That manages to sound thicker
Than any boy I have ever spoken to.
He teaches me how to use crickets to tell the temperature.
We sit silently, counting their chirps,
Searching for answers.
I watch him climb the stairs to his attic,
One ladder rung at a time
Checking down to make sure
I am still behind him.
He turns on the TV,
A relic that he cherishes—
more than baseball and Lemonheads—
All five channels and endless amounts of static it produces.
“I’ve only listened to a radio.
My momma won’t buy a TV.
She thinks it’ll spoil me.”
He laughs at me and pokes my sides.
We make forts with our sheets and our bodies and quickly destroy them.
He turns back to the TV, eventually.
He has a long scar—
I notice it as he undresses,
But he only seems to notice the television—
It runs down the back of his thin left thigh.
The shadows of us two in here
Looking bigger and closer
Than we really are,
They are beginning to play tricks on me.
Naked but for my underwear,
I curl into my sleeping bag as
The TV continues to crackle.
But he doesn’t seem to notice.
I start to count the crickets’ chirps,
Curious of the hot Georgia night
Seeping in though his window.
One, two, three, four,,,,