W.D. Ehrhart

Team Photograph, 1957– Perkasie, Pennsylvania: W.D. Ehrhart

Ten of the kids sit on the divingboard,
two in the water below the board;
two young coaches stand beside the kids.
Years before Speedos, of course, they’re
wearing a hodge-podge of bathing suits.

As you look at the photo, the kid
three in from the right is me;
the kid to my left is my best pal Jeff.
I’ve thrown my left arm over his shoulder.

I Like Ike was the president then.
One of the girls is big for her age.
One of the girls will soon be pregnant
and forced to drop out of school.
Another will die of a heroin overdose.
One will marry four different times,
have four children by four different men.
One has a sister whose husband
will beat her to death.

One of the boys will join the Marines
and survive a tour in Vietnam.
Another will join the army
and die in the Central Highlands.
One will kill himself with a shotgun
after he’s exposed as a queer.
One will become an anti-immigrant racist.

None of us knows any of this.
We are all smiling.

W. D. Ehrhart's newest books are Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems and a revised edition of Passing Time: Memoir of a Vietnam Veteran Against the War, both from McFarland.