by Thomas Davis
His photograph was of a running boy,
the sunset red and orange, the spray of waves
afire with light, the boy suspended, brave
from being young, his crazy leap of joy
upon the lake-soaked dock a song to buoy
the spirit, calm a troubled heartbeat, stave
off nightmares, swear to dare to misbehave
in ways that shows that life’s a game, a toy.
He sat outside his cabin in the sun
and shyly let his mother see his art.
She looked amazed, as if the photo stunned
her sense of who her son was in his heart.
He listened to her praise, but looked chagrined,
as if her lavish praise was not for him.
Mosquitoes swarmed in visible gray clouds.
Inside the dusty parking lot he laughed
to see my face as I exclaimed out loud,
“Where is the spray? They’re making me half daft!”
“Ignore them, or your final epitaph
will read, here lies my Dad, whose mind unhinged
because mosquitoes worked their bloody craft
upon his face and made him wail and cringe.
Mosquitoes buzzed him to a lunatic’s mad fringe!
Forget they’re there,” he said. “The welps on welps
will scar your skin and let you go and binge
on campfire food or find a scout to help.”
He paused, “mosquitoes, once ignored,” he said.
“Sting skin, but let you keep your mind and head.”
Note: Sonnet 28 is a description of an experience at a boy scout camp near Oshkosh, Wisconsin.