Poetry Drawer: Probabilities of Living by Robert Demaree

In college he was a friend of friends—
They’d gone to the same boarding school.
We were both at Fort Jackson
In ’61 on the eve of war.
He came to our wedding
And has shown up in our lives
Now and then over 50 years,
A bachelor from the time when
That word did not raise eyebrows,
Meant only that you would not
Commit your life to someone else.
His allegiance was to his work
And his silver flask,
The mathematics of insurance,
Probabilities of living,
And to his old school,
A love his classmates did not share.
His doctor tried to prescribe
Better choices,
Which for a while improved his
Probabilities of living.
In a dark downward slide
He would call late at night
And carry on about what good friends
We’d always been.
Sometimes he would leave a message
Which the next day he did not recall.

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