The end of summer.

Allen had a smile.
A way of saying things.
A style, you know, his own 
swagger and his own bling.

A summer kid for ten years, 
a swallow, with city smarts, 
a pool swimmer who was still 
strong in waves. 

A rare thing. A Halfling, 
part them but mostly 
he was us.

We called the bad ones flippers, 
Like the dolphin, or swallows 
and we laughed at that, 

flipping in the waves 
mouths agape. 
Swallows you see. Swallowing.
Not like the sleek birds of meadow fields

Allen was no flipper, 
he was a high diver, a striker 
with a ball, and a listening ear 
to all. A good guy.

One of us even though he was 
city born. A popular kid 
who didn’t have to try. 
Not like me, who tried too hard.

The first time the chemo 
took his hair other kids stared, 
other swallows smirked 

Laughing at the poor kid with nits.
none of us knew cancer then. 
We all do now.

Skint heads meant lice, 
the bugs of poor kids beds 
or so we thought. 

Allen had cancer in his bones, 
deep down cancer that took 
first his left arm, a drummer 
dream dying in tired brown 
eyes. Glum but only for a while.

The second year, June and freedom call.
Silence fell across the youth hall 
when he walked in. Hair all 
gone again. One arm and a stump. 

Then brave Anna clapped 
and Allen smiled and then 
the place went wild. 
The spell broken. If only!

God what a night. 
Death stared us in the face 
and we strutted tall. 
Owned the place.

I was the first to get my own 
head shaved. I thought I could 
save him. 

My Ma tanned my hide that night,  
then cried and hugged 
me tight. 

By August every kid on the lane 
was buzz cut, adults next, 
not all but some and it was enough. 

We cared, for all the difference 
that made. Allen lost his right arm. September came and we never saw him 

His funeral was sad in the way 
only a teenagers can be. Tears 
and smiles, girls with dark eyes 

And boys who mourn a hero 
and a friend. 
It was the end of summer.

© Dave Kavanagh @

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