Introducing Mr. Kroschel
Mr. Kroschel came of age
In the fifties and sixties, not as a hippie,
But as an intelligent, awkward,
Relatively homely, gay man.
He is one of our ward counselors.
His gayness has long since
Stopped being a talking point,
But it is something we share.
He is retired, but consults ad hoc.
We talk about the kids, and here, please,
I must say something
About calling the kids "kids." They don't like it.
No one likes it. But "patients" is wrong,
"children" is wrong, "youths" is silly,
"girl," "boy," "men," "women,"
"teens," "dudes," "hipsters," "emos,"
I don't know what to call them
Other than "kids," and so
Mr. Kroschel, Eugene, and I talk about
The kids, gauging, understanding,
Finding the right approach for each . . . child.
There is an undercurrent
In all conversations with Eugene which makes him
And equally removed, distant, that is,
Of course, a result of the number of friends
And lovers in his life that died of AIDS.
That he is alive is luck and nothing more.
I don't know what defines people.
Surely this defines Mr. Kroschel to some degree.
Our conversations are thoughtful, quiet, rich with humor.
He has been a god-send for me.
If such a thing is possible
I have a crush on the man, for kindness
Has always gone a long way with me,
A kind word and I am yours,
And I take it where I find it.
Which makes me too sympathetic, no,
Too vulnerable, for this job. These kids
Are either looking for love, or pretending
That they can do without it. Either way,
I'm the Johnny Appleseed of love
On the ward, much to the amusement
Of the full time staff, they tend
To fall, easily and understandably,
Into the category of pragmatic.
I'm part-time, I walk away
At the end of my shift, and if I leave a bit
Of myself behind, it doesn't kill me.
Day in and day out, that would be different,
I would adopt Joanne's cavalier,
Too cool, attitude. At least I could try.
All this is to say, the world has treated
Mr. Kroschel unfairly, that his grace
Under fire, and humor, have remained intact.
I could say it. I won't. He is, like all of us,
More complex than that. But,
Were I to say it, it would be accurate.
He is a graceful, kind, and warm-hearted man,
And to the extent possible, the kids love him.
Poetry by one trick pony
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Written on 2015-07-17 at 13:36
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