Next week we will walk along the beach
and periodically stare out on the ocean.
The waves will wash in and out, and one
will look much like the last and the next.
If we get out early enough, perhaps we will
sit outside a café across the road from the beach
and drink our wet cappuccinos and eat our bagels
while watching some 20-something
perform yoga poses on the sand, poses that we
can remember, uncertain how our bodies
ever assumed those postures, certain
to do so again would cause breakage
that would put medicine to an unfair test.
We watch the elderly drivers, question
why they still have licenses to drive, and
to the extent possible, avoid looking in mirrors.
The thing about it is
it is so damn quiet
I can hear myself think
but I can’t think anymore.
And I’ll tell you
this box is so cold
it just leaks air
and water has seeped in.
Somehow I expected more
it isn’t at all what
and the stone
is not set straight
which is driving me
only slightly crazy,
so tell me
about my grandsons
are they still handsome
young men, do they have
girlfriends like your wife.
You know steel would
have worn far better
and white satin
would be so much
more cheerful than this blue,
it just clashes with
this white gown
which fits terribly anyway.
You should come to visit
more often, Hilda’s son
and all her grandchildren
visit each week, but me, no one.
Its starting to rain again
so go, you don’t want
to catch a cold, it could
kill you, of this I’m certain.
First Appeared in Children, Churches and Daddies, Vol. 117, 1998.
The house is suddenly empty
standing alone on a stark barren lot.
The old drapes are drawn tight
and little light enters, but
there is no one there to see it.
Every once in a while there is a rattle,
a creaking, and you expect someone to appear
in one of the now dark windows,
the door to be thrown open, an invitation
to enter or at least a wave, life
asserting itself within, but it will not happen.
You know the house cannot stand long
unattended, that it will, too soon, fall away
leaving only a hole to mark its presence.
She wants to know if I
want to her gloves while planting
so I don’t get dirt deep in my skin
and under my nails.
There is no way I can explain to her
there is a certain joy
in placing my fingers into
the just wet soil, in moving it
with my hands, squeezing
small clods of earth, watching
bits of soil fall away.
It is certainly dirty work
but I know that this
is as close as I can get
to the earth from which I came
without engaging in that
final, eternal intimacy.
You are driving through the Florida
that once was, that is off the coast,
and out of Orlando, the Florida
of jalousie windows, run down once gas stations
and the more than occasional double wide.
Suddenly, you are in a Disney version
of a semi-tropical New England, gated villages
where cars have been supplanted by an endless
stream of golf carts, where the Disney smile
is a permanent fixture of most every face.
In the community, as you walk into
the town center, a town square imagined
by Rodeo Drive, each night at five
a wave of golf carts arrive , to plastic
lawn chairs laid out in neat array
soon to fill with those who so well remember
when the songs to be played, and they, were young.
She examines each banana
looking at it from all sides,
looking down its shaft
as though sighting a rifle.
Each banana, in turn, she gently
places back on the pile.
My patience grows thin,
but I smile and ask her
if I might approach the bin,
grab a small bunch of bananas,
be done with my shopping.
I see five with skins
are a uniform yellow, no
dark spots to be seen.
She frowns a bit and I say,
“Did you want these?”
“Oh no,” she says, “I don’t
want those — like most
the curvature is all wrong.”
Ensconced on the couch,
the cat hears a bird
singing outside the window.
Once, she would
have pressed her face
against the screen,
imagining a great chase.
Now she listens, content
to let the birds sing
into the fading sun.