My new friend with the soft face and fluffy Afro sat next to me in French class.
We were both nerds, bonded chatting about Elizabethan England,

Did you know they didn’t wear underwear? Since then, through my husbands,
his boyfriends, we’ve never run out of things to talk about.

The best parties of my life were at his house, with his parents and three brothers.
They had recently moved from the City to our New Jersey town.

His friends from Harlem came to his house; all us kids went
to the basement while upstairs the parents ate the southern food,

yes, chicken and collard greens, that his mom, who had a career in banking,
found time to prepare. She made this little Jewish girl feel right at home.

Down in the basement, we didn’t drink or do drugs just danced
to the Jackson Five, The Supremes, The Temptations, Sly and the Family Stone.

Michael Jackson was in early puberty, just as we were, his voice sweet and high,
like a beguiling younger brother.

Michael sang so much honey the bees in the trees when I had my first dance
with someone I don’t remember. ABC it’s easy it’s a simple melody
that’s how easy love can be.

Many years later, Michael Jackson died of an overdose in his wonderland that was not
so wonderful. By then, cosmetic surgery and God knows what else had turned him ghostly.

My friend’s younger brother, named Michael, died too, of cancer. I visited him in ICU,
his skin stretched taut over his gaunt face,

remembered what he looked like at twelve, his mischievous face popping up
over the back of the sofa, when Michael Jackson sang sweet and high.