×
×
homepage logo
STORE

Poet remembers brother lost 65 years ago

By Staff | May 22, 2009

Pedrito II: The Sequel

In Memoriam

Peter Paul Pacheco (Pedrito)

1924-1944

The cold clammy face and fact of him

Weren’t at all like the movies.

There was no last thing for him to tell me,

No brotherly advice, no dying wish.

Nor could I sit through the Coming Attractions

And wait for him to come on again:

His screen was blank forever.

This was the fact of death

He made me face for the first time

In the chill of Rotella’s Funeral Parlor,

Arrayed in his coffin in khaki,

Soldier hat fitted on

To cover the wound in the head,

Killed not in battle but in accident of war,

Not in glory but in unlucky break.

II

For a while I remembered him

Dearly and clearly, but reminiscence

Weakened with each resurrection,

And the relentless march of death

Kept leaving fewer to share remembrance;

I kept thinking of him

Less and less until hardly at all,

Until almost out of mind.

But he would appear in dreams:

Once to tell me it was all a big mistake,

His death had been faked by his superiors

To allow him to go “undercover”

And he was sorry he had made us suffer –

When could he see his nieces?

In another dream we sat on my patio

Drinking Ruppert’s beer

And reminiscing about the old neighborhood,

He had acquired a wife and two children,

And we watched the cousins play.

But on the soundtrack of those early dreams

A voice like my own kept whispering:

Whose face was that you kissed in Rotella’s?

Whose grave is that in Pinelawn?

III

Then for the longest time he stopped appearing

And in the feverish daylight of waking,

There were only glints of thought,

Or occasional wisps of memory

To remind me I had not always been

Without a brother.

IV

Now as the deaths keep piling up

And the distance between us

Like daylight in winter

Grows relentlessly shorter,

He reappears in reverie

Like the hero in a sequel

To a movie I once loved,

To pick up 65 years later

From where “The End” left off,

And we get to share our manhood

And talk about women and sports

And we are there for each other

At births, graduations, weddings

And our parent’s funerals,

And on the soundtrack of “Pedrito II”

A voice like his keeps murmuring:

“That wasn’t my face in Rotella’s,

I am not buried in Pinelawn.”

But then, in sudden flashback,

The cold clammy fact of him

Intrudes in black and white,

His screen goes blank again

And there is only memory,

Present and pain.

V

“Dear only brother,

Never father, never uncle,

Too briefly lover,

Of all who have ever lived

You are the one most like me.

Now three times longer unlived,

The life you lived still lies

Embedded in my own

And will remain

In whatever is left of me,

Until I face for myself

The fact of death

I first learned to face

When I kissed you so uneasily

In Rotella’s Funeral Parlor,

13th Street and Avenue A,

New York City.”