Christmas, 1955
by Patrick T. Reardon

David Michael smiles wide
under a jungle explorer helmet.
So do I. Our smiles toothy and
without restraint, as if there
will be no future.

We wear fake buckskin
with regimented fake leather fringe
that came with the fake coonskin caps
we wore like the TV star.
We could not believe our luck.

The Davy Crockett outfits and — there
must have been a sale — the jungle
explorer get-ups, simpler, just a
jungle explorer helmet and
a jungle explorer rifle
to kill big game.
We mixed and

Not knowing
the helmets
were called
pith helmets.

Not knowing
the small
that would
come sixty
years later
when the

SOURCE: This poem will appear in the author’s 110-page collection Requiem for David (Silver Birch Press, February 2017).

PHOTO: David Michael Reardon, who was nearly 5, and Patrick T. Reardon, who had just turned 6, on Christmas Day, 1955.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There are several photographs that were taken that Christmas of David Michael and me in our Davy Crockett stuff and our jungle explorer stuff. When I looked at them, the image that was most evocative was the one in which we’d mixed and matched the two outfits.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon is a Chicagoan, born and bred. He is the author of seven books, including Faith Stripped to Its Essence: A Discordant Pilgrimage through Shusaku Endo’s ‘Silence.’ His collection of poems Requiem for David will be published by Silver Birch Press in February 2017. Reardon worked for 32 years as a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, specializing in urban affairs, and is now writing a book about the untold story of the impact of the elevated railroad Loop on the stability and development of Chicago. His essays have appeared frequently in American and European publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter, Illinois Heritage, Reality, and U.S. Catholic. His book reviews have twice won the Peter Lisagor Award for arts criticism. He has lectured on Chicago history at the Chicago History Museum.