1987, What I wanted

by Robert Salley

In 1987, I wanted to play in the creek,

catching frogs and wishing the street lights would wait another hour.

I wanted to keep a jar of lightning bugs by my bedside,

and name each one after cartoon characters.


In 1987, I wanted Tammy to be my friend,

I wanted to be important to somebody;

find a way to burst the soundless bubble that caged me

away from parents too young to see their recklessness.


In 1987, an Irish band sang With or Without you

and I wanted to know what love felt like.

I dreamed of beautiful girlfriends I would never make my wife,

because in 1987, I was too afraid to be kissed.


In 1987, I wanted to go to county fairs

instead of hospital waiting rooms.

I wanted to watch, for as long as I could,

until my innocence, like a balloon, disappeared from view.


I wanted to believe in a Heaven

where I would never say goodbye to anyone,

never again watch ailing flesh
turn cold and gray.


In 1987, I wanted her to beat cancer.

I wanted to know my grandmother

better than an 11 year old could.

In 1987, I wanted it to be 1986