the shades are down though
the day is overcast
Josh White is singing
“House Of The Rising Sun”
warm vinyl suffusing the air
with honey-scented blues
one boy is on the couch
napping cat above him
the other at the computer
napping cat at his feet
this is a moment
to capture in amber
so its DNA can be extracted
years later when these boys
have boys of their own
in some far-off town
& I’m listening to Josh White
with two different cats
& my memories
to keep me company
/ / /
14 February 2015
Bonus: Here’s Josh White singing “House Of The Rising Sun”
I’m sitting in my apartment, one lamp on,
watching old episodes of Doctor Who, from
the first year they made it in color. There’s
nobody here but me, because the boys are
at their grandmother’s house, and I’m not
allowed past the front door. And not even
that far, if she has her druthers. They’ll be
here soon, though, to take me to their house,
where we’ll play some games and wait
for the arrival of Santa Claus, in whom one
believes and one doesn’t. If you’d told me ten,
or even five, years ago that this year I’d be
cut off from my entire family (except for my
sister) and living alone in my least favorite place
on Earth, I’d have hoped you weren’t clairvoyant.
And although I’m much better at staying
in the moment than I used to be, there are some
moments you hope pass quickly. Still,
later tonight I’ll get to tuck my sons in,
pet their dog, lay my head down on a real bed.
And in the morning they’ll open their gifts,
we’ll laugh and we’ll hug. That’s what I’m waiting for,
as the clock ticks away the minutes on Christmas Eve.
It was the summer that John Cougar’s “Hurts So Good”
owned the airwaves. I remember it was playing
in Todd’s room when I got there. Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Our family’s last stand in our home state before
the final dissolution. Before we spread across the country
like dandelion seeds scattered by a strong wind.
It was also the summer of the Kinks’ “Lola,” introduced
to me by a Doctor Demento parody called “Yoda.”
“Y-O-D-A Yo-Da.” All three of those songs are bound up
in my memory like the sight of the sword Todd laid
on his bed, a gift from the grandfather we didn’t share.
The one who’d been an officer in the Knights of Columbus.
It was the last summer of trips to see Plymouth Rock
or the replica of the Mayflower. (“April showers bring
May flowers. What do May flowers bring? Pilgrims!”)
After that, seeing Todd meant a trip to Wisconsin.
It wasn’t the same. Even later when I moved to Arizona
where he lived, things had changed. Too much time.
It was the summer I came home from my grandparents’ place
round as a beach ball from all the Ring Dings I’d eaten,
sitting in front of the little TV in their den watching Star Blazers.
My parents made me run a mile a night until I was less round.
One of many clues I didn’t notice until three decades later.
By then the bullet had hit and passed through, leaving a scar.
Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which seems like a good time to mention that back during the Civil War, two of my cousins were jailed by Abraham Lincoln for sedition. You can read the entire story in the March 2006 issue of Flanders Family News. (This links to a PDF file. The story starts on Page 9.)
By the way, lest you interpret this the wrong way — I’m a big fan of Lincoln. But how could I pass up this story?