Summer School James Dean
He sat in the third row, third seat,
every day the first two weeks of summer school.
With his brown hair falling over one eye
and an easy smile,
he was both glib and witty.
His idol was James Dean,
he wrote in his first paper.
The resemblance was remarkable.
Dressed in jeans and a black tee-shirt,
he slouched at his desk in a posture of boredom.
I knew him for only eight days.
On the tenth day after the start
of summer school, on a Sunday, he died.
Cause of death–drowning while camping.
Heart attack, I was told, due to a birth defect.
A sixteen-year-old charmer
gone in a moment,
potential lost in a gush of water
and a final heartbeat.
His empty seat faces me five times a week.
The other desks are full of needy students,
but his is the only one I see.
Richard, the rebel James Dean,
and his idol together at last.
© Barbara Flass 1992