you hear that?
The oars behind Boathouse Row
striking the water with no ratio whatsoever?
Oh, youthful ambition of early varsity rowers!
How cutely they shake hands with the Schuylkill River.

Check out that couple by Turtle Rock,
the ones who have just escaped those white geese.
Hands all over each other, whispering…
I bet they’ll buy each other a matching pair of Steiff bears.
We shopped for a Steiff once—

I tell you, since we last saw each other,
they’ve opened several new parks along the river—
it’s pretty awesome.
Took down a few of the statues, though.
Including the three Playing Angels,
the ones we stared at while sipping that Illy latte—

You do remember, don’t you?
I wrote a poem about it!
I never showed it to you,
always too embarrassed—remember?
Came up with progressively sophisticated excuses.
Became a game we both liked to play.

Remember all the things you just had to teach me?
Life lessons we learned from black squirrels
then from the eagles that ate them?

Remember that edamame I dropped on your head?
Sounded like a xylophone.

Since we last saw each other, I lost three cellphones,
and all my numbers with them.
I always knew yours, though.
Yours was the first one I dialed
every time I got a new phone.
I guess I never had good timing though.
Eventually, I learned to control myself.
Called other people whenever I was tempted to call you.
Made lots of friends that way.
Lots of good heart-to-hearts.

Remember that fruit basket I gave you in Conshohocken?
I know you remember that.
You were carrying an oar when you saw it
and smacked some lanky man on the head with it.
For all your athletic prowess,
you always were a bit clumsy.
Never let it slow you down, though.
How you attacked those watermelon cubes!

You know, since we last saw each other,
I’ve arbitrated several successful hostage exchanges,
traveled on assignment to five newly formed countries,
helped a retired plumber deliver hyena cubs,
read with a jazz band at the tribute to the departed
poet laureate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Remember that letter you sent your first grade teacher?
You really let him have it, didn’t ya?
Took him to the woodshed for all your traumas.

Remember how we promised to stay in touch?
I do. Like it was an hour ago.
We stood next to a stack of plates
in Dr. Willis’ living room—remember?
You kissed me, almost knocked over
the whole lot of those stupid plates.

Didn’t I catch one of them?

Wait, didn’t catch all of them?

Maybe not all?
Two or three?
Wait, I must have caught at least five.

Five, right?
Or six?

Do you remember?

Didn’t I break their fall?
I didn’t let any them break, did I?

Did I?

What’s that?

Doesn’t matter?

No, I guess it doesn’t.

Originally from Moscow, Russia, Anton Yakovlev lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and works as a college textbook editor. He studied filmmaking and poetry at Harvard University. His work is published or forthcoming in The New Yorker, Fulcrum, American Arts Quarterly, Measure, The Raintown Review, The New Verse News and elsewhere. He is the author of chapbooks Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015) and The Ghost of Grant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015). He has also directed several short films.

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