The reception's not bad, across 50 years,
though his voice has lost its boot-camp timbre.
He's in his 80's now and, in a recent photo,
looks it, so bald and pale and hard to see behind
the tallowing of flesh. Posing with friends,
he's the only one who has to sit—the man
three of us couldn't pin. "The Hugger,"
they christened him before my class arrived—
for his bearlike shape and his first name, Hugh.
He fostered even us, the lowly track squad.
"Mr. Morrison," I still call him. "You were
the speedster on the team, a flash," he recalls
with a chuckle. That's where his memory of me
fades. And what have I retained of him beyond
the nickname, voice, and burly shape? The rest
could be invention: memory and desire's
sleight-of-hand as we call up those we think
we've known, to chat about the old days
and the weather, bum hips and cholesterol,
our small talk numbing as a dial tone,
serious as prayer.