How We Grew
by Steve Deutsch

The summer I turned seventeen
a girl I never knew leapt from her 8th floor window.
She fell soundlessly
to land some twenty feet from our pick-up game,
just as Fox’s one-hand set shot,
arced and graceful as a prayer,
clanged against the unforgiving rim.
My best friend, Red, threw up by the foul line.

It was a summer of sorting out.
In Vietnam, our country had need of its children.
Some of us — good at math,
good with words,
good at taking tests
were off to college — four years of a certain kind of diligence.
The others donned helmet and gun
and tried to make a deal
with a god they had no use for,
so that they might come home again.

I never knew what made her jump
on that perfect day in June,
when the wind, for once
blew from the north,
taking with it the stink of landfill
just five minutes south of us
in Canarsie Bay.
I often wondered just what it was
that defied her self-forgiveness —
how fortune shakes the die
in her palsied hand
and how we must learn to live with the lie.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Picture of Bob Cousy (how I saw myself on the basketball court at 17).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is nearly nonfiction. A girl I did not know, of about my age, did leap from her window to her death — though I did not see it. And my friends did divide between going to college and going to Vietnam. Those of us who went to school had an infinitely easier time of it. We have, however, had to come to terms with our good fortune — a process that in my case seems like it will go on forever.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Deutsch, a semi-retired practitioner of the fluid mechanics of mechanical hearts and heart valves, lives with his wife Karen — a visual artist — in State College, Pennsylvania . Steve writes poetry, short fiction and the blog His most recent publications have been in Eclectica Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, Silver Birch Press, Misfit Magazine and One-sentence poems. As an adult, he had the good fortune to sit in on two poetry classes taught by first-class poets and teachers. He has been writing poetry ever since.