Aras was eleven, easily
six feet tall with a Turkish moustache
that I marveled at. Lunchtime, he sat
with us, sipping at the red thermos
his mother had filled. I passed
six Catholic school seasons in social exile,
plotting access, while Aras drank
calm as Madame Lloyd’s displeasure
at our failures en Francais.
When I was called down for writing curses
in a yearbook, Aras did not blink.
When one of the headmaster’s whining sons
was yanked from class for throwing stars
that stuck in the other’s chubby thigh,
Aras did not smirk. When the dating began,
the haughty collars popped, or
when Springsteen became faith, Aras was unmoved.
One day he was demanded from Mr. Sacca’s
religion class, where scripture was assumed
culture, where Derek carved at the desk
in a full suit, fingers smeared with ink,
& I sat waiting for each bell to bless.
Aras, the word passed, had been drinking
beer. The teachers had been too far from
his breathing to recognize. His silence
had been expected, & then preferred.
The drink had rested between us
the whole time- forbidden, customary.
Max Heinegg’s poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and The Pushcart Prize. He’s been a finalist for the poetry prizes of Crab Creek Review, December Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Cutthroat, Rougarou, and the Nazim Hikmet prize. He lives and teaches English in the public schools of Medford, MA and am the co-founder and brewmaster of Medford Brewing Company. He’s also a songwriter whose records can be heard at www.maxheinegg.com.