You phoned in the amber hours of the night
to tell me of your latest love, and how –
if I didn’t mind the extra hassle –
you hoped I’d play a part at your wedding.
It stung like a snowball hitting my face
when you asked: “How ‘bout being my best man?”
because, in truth, all my speech could suggest
was that tales of youth are best left unsaid.
There was the time we tried playing Star Wars –
with you a Jedi, and me as Darth Maul.
But things quickly took a turn for the worse
when your head went clang on the kitchen sink.
And that time we went the police station
after fighting over the PlayStation.
or when mum told me I had to leave home
after I made you eat lumps of charcoal.
Most of all, I recall that day in spring
when I locked you in next door’s back garden;
and how I watched through the iron gate
as you got nipped by Felix, the dachshund.
But a few nights later you phoned again,
telling me in a voice which creaked and groaned:
“All that was once true love has turned to dust!”
and then you filled the line with bitter tears.
It wasn’t because your heart was broken
or that I wouldn’t need to buy a suit,
but I gave a smile on finding out
that your big day was well and truly kerplunked.
Looking back, I understand my relief
at not having to give a best man’s speech:
there should have been more to show from those years
than just the slow rot of our brotherhood.
Mark Greene is a poet, short-story writer and novelist. He was born on the Wirral but now works and lives in Sheffield. Mark has previously been published in Now Then, Platform for Prose, STORGY, The Cadaverine, Clear Poetry and Ink. magazine.