So, Bly, you have finally gone and joined the parade, holding out the longest as though that was a badge you could somehow carry out with you.
Take consolation that you bested Ginsberg and Corso and even outlasted Ferlinghetti, though he was giving you a run for your money.
And Plath, well she was the first, far too young everyone said, but now I am left with the newer generation and I miss you old timers, who did not need to experiment to find your truth and share it, but I understand your reluctance, for I am all too rapidly, if unwillingly preparing to join the parade as well.
As a youngster I thought I had convinced my grandmother to one day entrust me with the old family recipes, since my mother wanted little to do with the kitchen and less with anything that came from “there.”
It was a bit of a shock to learn years later that grandma was born in London, that her mother shared my mother’s dislike for the kitchen and both favored take out whenever possible.
She did finally share her specialties which I carefully wrote down for posterity, only to discover that someone in the family was named Betty Crocker.
I was twelve at the time, would have chosen to be anywhere but there. I hated visiting her at home, but this took my disgust to a whole new level. We were never close, never would be, she so old, so old world, so unlike anyone I had known, so like the women sitting outside the old hotels on South Beach waiting for a wave or death, whichever first flowed in, life having long ebbed. The room as I remember it was barren, bleached to a lack of any color, the bed a white frame, white sheets, a small white indentation staring up at the ceiling, up at heaven, and everywhere what I imagined were steel bars through which we and the doctors and nurses could pass, but which held her tightly within, serving out what remained of her ever shortening life sentence.
My grandson has a smile that is as old as time itself, as young as the mind of a four-year-old and in this moment, beaming, I am left to guess which it is, for he won’t say, and so I smile with him and time has no meaning, no beginning, no end.
The introductions were relaxed but complete as befits three people in a small room, she the linchpin knowing each of the others, utter strangers to each other, save in her stories. The men stared at each other gently ensuring the other saw only a smile for the better part of two minutes, basking in the silence that introductions demand. “I am really surprised,” the older man said, “it is truly odd, but you look at absolutely, exactly like what I imagined the adopted son of Isadore Myers would look like not more than 30 seconds ago.” “It is truly odd,” the younger man replied, “you look nothing at all like the man I met in this room not a second more than a minute ago, and why, pray tell, is that woman over there smiling?
In the picture he is young, wearing a uniform that fits him, has his name over the breast, but his hair is longer. The picture is a bit askew, there is a clock on the wall but the time does not matter. He knows it was the radio studio but others would not, the mic is out of focus, the dials of the transmitter peeking in from the periphery. He can barely remember it, that is what 50 years will do, but he remembers the parade ground at Lackland Air Force Base and the hospital where they told him his trip to Da Nang would be canceled and his life reinstated.