Patrick Slevin

The Way Back

They didn’t expect me to lead the log flume.
To make them stay on for another pirate ship.
To lean back on the helter skelter
and raise my hands in victory.

When they asked me in the car, I told them.
We never went to fairs. The older ones
might have gone but when I came along
that was done. I turned up a song of theirs

to fill the silence that couldn’t be filled.
Then I told them. But I went to fairs, later,
on my own. And I went on all the rides,
in those black clothed teenaged years,

hunting shadows in the flashing lights,
pretending to be with that group to all
the watching eyes. Silent. Desperate to go faster.
Not screaming. Never. Not until today.

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