Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Responsible One

They shared a pretty good room—
Dorm’s top floor southwest corner,
Smallish but with two windows

Overlooking the maples
Currently turning crimson.
Shaun was in love with Diane,

The choir director’s daughter,
Or swore he was. The dramas
Of their make-outs and breakups

Often left him muttering
About maybe dropping out,
Maybe just running away.

His roomie was just in love
With running away. They talked
Philosophically of this,

Both seniors in good standing,
With good grades, applications
To college already sent.

What would it be like to run,
To cut and leave, to be bums,
To wander the continent?

Shaun was tall, healthy, handsome,
Played several varsity sports,
Was popular, had money,

But Diane drove him crazy.
He complained, and some darkness
Was always in his comments.

His roommate was a loser,
Small and homely, with nothing
To commend him but top grades.

He agonized over faith,
History, and fantasy
Novels about wanderers,

But he was helpful to Shaun,
Good at figuring out things,
Cutting corners to get by.

One day, Shaun’s English homework
Was to memorize a poem.
He hated both ends of that—

Memorizing poetry,
Speaking in front of the class—
But his roommate helped him out,

Found a poem even Shaun liked,
Short, metric with a rhyme scheme
And a devastating end,

Not too hard to memorize
And easily recited.
Shaun, relieved, landed an A.

That roommate would graduate.
Shaun, one calm October night,
Went home. Why, no one would say.

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