Leap of Faith
for Danny Mayfield
idly curious, I happened upon
my high school class homepage
and was scrolling through an alphabet of old faces
and names I didn’t recognize or recall:
Under the D’s I was “Located.”
In the G’s, Tim was “Missing.”
And under the M’s, there you were
captured in black-and-white, your senior picture,
still staring out at me with that perpetual smirk –
the one you wore as we took five-dollar pledges
from our classmates the summer we graduated,
at Kenneth Quarry: you doing all the talking,
“Ten people give me five bucks each and I’ll go off the top!”
A hundred feet down to the water. Nobody believed you’d do it.
And me holding the money as the crowd gathered.
“How much we got?”
You winked at me, stripped off your shirt, and just like that
took a running leap into space, screaming “Arriba! Andele!”
Arms pinwheeling as you pointed your toes
and rocketed into crystal-cool water,
an arc of bubbles streaming deep beneath the surface.
We stood at the edge and held our breath
until you burst up and out,
and we all screamed as you smiled
looking at us, watching me waving a fist full of cash.
Under the M’s, you were “Deceased, 2011.”
I stared at your smile across all the years,
and with no one to ask how or why
or who surrounded the circumstances
I saw you then - in mid-air and on fire