I put the expedition together, and all the boys in the sixth grade signed up. After all, we needed doctors, scientists, any kid who’d climbed Kennesaw, no matter how small, with their father once. Anyone who had a real tent, a BB gun, a scout knife. The girls only scoffed, which was okay, since they were only girls anyway. We did our research, World Book from the library on primates, photos of size 20 footprints splayed in snow crust, Himalayas, Hillary, Sherpas, Everest, yaks and maps, and we were ready to go, face unafraid that high altitude future, massive, hairy, strong as we wanted to grow, a beast as fierce as all of our parents put together.
I can’t imagine, on this autumn morning, ever waiting with my father on cold corners for school buses, much less hugging him goodbye as I do my daughter. (O lucky, lucky bus to get to enfold her body into your own.) Seems like everybody does it these days, even jocks. That kid there, as tall, hugs his old man, and gets hugged back. Only as he lay dying did he reach for my hand. After the bus leaves, we I walk back home alone, along a path already white with frost.
©2021 William Greenway
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