Something So Close
When he hands me a glass of beer
and a little plate of green olives,
I think how much my bartender tonight
in Madrid looks like my Uncle Mike,
the exact same black hair and thin face.
Uncle Mike ran a hardware store out near Annapolis
and married Aunt Donna back in ‘64
when she was just sixteen. He was a kid
then himself, right out of the Air Force
with a new, red Mustang convertible.
Their marriage didn’t last forever, maybe
a handful of years with three daughters
and the Mustang traded in for a station wagon.
Aunt Donna ran off with the guy who built
the deck on their house my grandmother paid for;
then the cops found a boatload of car stereos
and radar detectors in Uncle Mike’s apartment.
I remember maybe the last time I saw him
we were tossing a football around in the backyard
and Uncle Mike reached back and chucked one
hard just beyond my outstretched arms and over
the fence into the neighbors’ yard. Even though
it was forty years ago, I can see him standing there
hands on hips, shaking his head. Oh, shit, he said.
Sorry. No wonder I never made the varsity.
I motion to the bartender for another beer
and more tapas, but when he starts to walk
toward me, I just stare down and push the plate
of olive pits and thin napkins across the counter.
I don’t look up until he walks away, start to wonder
how old Uncle Mike would be these days or even
if he’s still alive at all, stuff a sardine in my mouth
and take a long swallow of beer when I realize
I wouldn’t even know who the hell to ask any more
about something so close and so very far away.