You Still Know Me

By Alan Balter

once they would have called you “feeble minded”
or “senile,” but now they say you’re “demented”
not that it matters to me my friend,

   because I call you Michael


the nurses say you don’t know me, but when

I hold your quaking hand in mine
and a crooked smile plays around your lips
I know they’re mistaken


not long ago we played our games

between sugar maple trees and a red brick building
where they warehoused sheets of metal for some war
instead of once brilliant men


and the day after, we went to college

where we learned the law yet still found time

to write poetry for pretty coeds with blond hair

   and full lips who loved us in your rusty Studebaker


then somehow, it became today
and I’ve come to visit you, as I will tomorrow,
and your eyes will brighten because you still know me

   my good and dear friend Michael