matt pond PA

March 26, 2018

Dear Charlie.


I fail to remember so much. But I cannot forget how we carved spears out of old lumber in the barn. We were eight, whittling and laughing, the shavings curled and floated down to the dirt, twirling like sugar maple seeds. I guess we believed this was the best defense for kids with single moms.

I hid my spears next to the door frames in our house, straight and precarious along the molding. Stomping, slamming, or just a strong breeze through a window screen — almost anything could make them crash to the ground. A startling, wooden smack.

My family hated the spears but tolerated my fears. Fortunately, I never impaled my sisters, nor did I face the visceral reality of having to stab an intruder.

Apart from the weaponry, you cannot imagine how much has changed. I am taller, I have a beard most of the time. The fantasies of fast cars have grown to include mysterious women in sunglasses.

The eyes and brain behind them remain the same, though. They close, and I’m returning to Franconia. Pebble fights and broken windows. Our collie, Patsy, the constant sidekick. A brief history of mindless abrasions and knee blood, all upon the neighboring church sidewalk peninsula. I worried so much about the possibility of LSD in my Halloween candy. I was always terrified of being kidnapped and brainwashed by a hippie cult.

It’s taken me this long to stop being terrified of everything. Sometimes, I even go so far as to relax.

I coped by being belligerent. I still struggle to keep my words light. I think I scare people when I sputter through sarcastic gloomy valleys, the revolving fixations on how I could’ve done it all better. Sleepless and arguing with a million hotel room ceilings.

I think my new amigos would prefer that I delivered dreamier punchlines. It’s difficult, to both pronounce and be insouciant.

I think of you in this forgiving weather and pure purpose. The spring will never stop being an adventure of new life, snapping turtles escaping the ice, cardinals popping out against the drab branches. I wonder how you have survived the seasons, now that the face has fallen off The Old Man of the Mountain. To me, you are exactly the same. The kid with the coolest action figures. Brown eyes, understanding, whittling, laughing at stupid shit. Watching and waiting for the wiggle in the gelatinous clusters of frog eggs. No words. I miss our ancient and basic friendship.