A woman and her husband
Stopped at this place
She, eight months with child
He, thinking about walking out
And the drive had been a tense one
Old wounds reopened
Fresh hurts on display
And an old couple was there
At the same time
Laughing while they pumped gas
They asked her when the baby was due
She said, “One month.”
The old man asked her husband
“Are you excited?”
“Nervous,” was the reply
“Don’t be. Just remember:
Who loves you back
Is the greatest thing in the world.
And your child
Will love you back.”
Forty-eight years later
The woman is no longer young
She stands at this abandoned place
Her young granddaughter in tow.
“What is this place?” the little girl asks
This is where your grandaddy and I
Decided to stay in love
(“Filling Station” – 8-15-2014)
“No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.”
Cruel laughter rings
Around a five-year-old boy
Look at the little baby!
He carries a teddy bear!
And tears appear in the eyes
Of the young, confused boy
And the toy bear
She was a lithesome seventeeen
Wanting to leave girlhood behind;
He was so handsome, quiet, forceful
He filled her soul, her heart, her mind
Giving herself to adult pleasure
Finding too late the price of lust;
Violence breaking out in ruin
Having a baby, broken trust
Young single mom setting up a nursery
Worn teddy bear for the baby’s bed;
The only gift that his father left him
So many things must stay
His mother died when he was only six
He had no father that he’d ever known
He set off with his grandmother to live
Some other place, with everything unknown
His only friend, a tattered sewn-up toy
The house smelled funny, all his tears were spent;
He hugged his only friend up to face
Just trying to recall
His mother’s scent
“You can be anything,” she said,
In a quiet moment before bed,
But the child could see some sadness there
And so asked, “Mom, what’s wrong?”
The mother paused with a distant stare,
As though she could see someone standing there;
And said, “You could be President, for sure,
Or the reason we find a famous cure;
You could be a parent, a star, a friend
Who is there through the joy or the bitter end.
But there is one ‘can’t’ for us all, you see:
You can’t be the person you used to be.”
The child looked up, and said, “If that’s true,
She must have been great to be better than you.”
The mist and rain, a gray wet towel
Upon the earth. The trees in layers,
Steeples, traffic lights – and one,
A straggling car, drives slowly down
A hidden byway, fire hydrant lost,
A wood fence rotting in the damp,
Along a pitted driveway where
A bent mailbox sits rusting.
= = = = =
The fire crackles; plaid and coffee,
Feet stretched out and music,
Mellower than mocha, looking
Over at the rain upon the window.
Lights reflected warm,
The cold fall mist highlights
The swing of headlights
Into the dull gray yard beyond
= = = = =
Borders of a shared aluminum
Shell, the edge of that small town;
A year apart, and everywhere else
Together. Humble Oil
And Burger Chef nearby.
An era lost, or never found:
And from that place
They each emerged – she married,
He enlisted – and both determined
To get away from all that stained
Their pillows: decades torn
And skin shed wrinkled,
Only Holiday letters, then
His car arrives.
= = = = =
The mist runs now inside, the gray
Is shared, the once-young faltering;
But love is never really old,
It’s only shivering unspoken,
Cold and rain, that
Bringing once again the sound
And scent of once
A trailer park
And humble that became
Their long escape.
Too late, it never is,
To do what’s right.
He worked a farm in summer
To save and pay for college,
Just sun and soil and sweat
He traded in for knowledge,
And though things didn’t go
Exactly as he’d planned,
He told his son that one day
He would understand.
The jobs were hard and varied,
His effort though, unflagging,
His son could never see.
Why work when pay is lagging?
And when the son was old enough,
He wanted his own brand —
Because he’d seen the toil
And didn’t understand.
In time he gained a family:
A daughter by his wife —
He knew there were no limits.
He would give those two his life —
And driving to the farm
His father’s buried on, he stood,
And said, “I understand, now, Dad.
And all of it is good.”
He thought they’d had, for them,
A quite good day.
He took the garbage out
Before she asked, complimented
Her on the new hair style, and
Listened for some time after
Inquiring as to her day
He tried to make eye contact as
She was taking unusable things out
If the refrigerator and moving them
To the garbage can, smiling on
Occasion to show his sympathy with
The vicissitudes of that day’s battle
He commented on how selfless she
Always was, and how people took
Advantage, sometimes; as she finished
Drying her hands after washing them,
He lightly placed his hands on her shoulders
Whereupon she recoiled, turning at
Once to pass that off as a gesture of
Busy procedure on to the next task, while he
Realized with the first dim realization of
A new forever that
What used to be good enough for her
Wasn’t good enough any more
He was a superhero then,
At nine years old (in his own mind)
And she sat in the front of class
And stood by him in lunchroom line,
He’d see her on her bike sometimes
In Spring, a pink and purple blur;
Her name was Paige, and when he thought
At all of girls, he thought of her.
She was the smartest kid in class,
And ran as fast as anyone;
And sometimes down at Ander’s Field
They’d play until the setting sun.
A dozen kids, or more, there’d be,
And games they’d play for sport, or whim;
Her name was Paige, and when she thought
At all of boys, it wasn’t him.
This tale has no great denouement:
He crushed on her, she didn’t know.
At nine years old, you feel some things,
Then ride your bike and let it go.
That pink and purple bike, some nights,
Will pop into his dreams -— it does —-
Her name was Paige, and he liked her.
And that is all that story