After the Matinee
by Bill Tremblay


 by Bill Tremblay

Is there one place I can go

that always lifts my heart?

Yes, I’m sitting at the kitchen table

of the first floor apartment

in the triple-decker at the end of Wardwell Court

with sundown spreading its golden syrup

through the elms of an August evening

as my father smokes

a Pall Mall and sighs thinking of his

father dead alone in Worcester’s skid row

“from exposure,” he says. “To what?” I ask

in the always-present. He crushes his stub.

 “Can Billy come out?” Kenny asks

through the screen window. Everyone’s there:

Stashu, Dizzy, Bernie, Kenny, Leo, the two Carols.

“Can I?” “You and your gang going to terrorize

the neighborhood?” I can tell he’s teasing.


The screen door slaps behind me

as I jump off the porch. We walk up the alley

between tenements singing “Around her neck,

she wore a yellow ribbon,” and then louder,

“When I asked her

why the yellow ribbon she said

it’s for my lover who is far far away…”

singing as if we knew what wearing a ribbon

feels like as we float into the elm grove

our baseball diamond,

up the outfield where Stashu will always

shoot an arrow in my shoulder and the scar

will always mark that moment as we go past

old lady Guardino’s and we sing past

the Fong house and circle the neighborhood

like a cavalry patrol in a John Ford movie.


 That’s what keeps me going

when things go south:

kids singing as the stars come out.

And mothers calling us home

on account of darkness.