A Male Approaching 65 and Single
by Job Conger
8:40 pm Monday, July 16, 2012
Some things fade from memory:
my parents’ best friends,
my brother’s first wife
my favorite Aunt Estelle and Uncle Turner’s street
in Leavenworth, Kansas where I spent a few summer vacations,
the name of my mother’s father –
I met him one time on his farm in Cochran, Georgia
when I was five –
My dad’s father and my dad’s father’s father were named Job
– that’s easy enough –
I remember my sister Dorothy’s prom night,
all the fuss she and mom made over her prom dress,
lots and lots of petticoats.
She was the queen of the senior prom that year
Nineteen hundred and fifty-four
and I would soon turn seven
As I look back through the years,
grateful for every one,
trying to remember what I forgot —
and for what positive benefit I cannot imagine —
I am glad that I can’t recall much of the small stuff
which I sweated through at Benjamin Franklin Junior High
I remember my Springfield High senior prom night in 1965
and Joyce Elaine Mitchell from Sacred Heart Academy
and her address on way-south Second Street
and the big band at the Illinois Building at the State Fairgrounds.
We danced maybe once. Listened to the music for half an hour and fled for peace and quiet to be big senior party
at Prairie Run near New Salem,
We watched the sun rise from the parking lot
and we kissed goodnight on her front porch at 6:57 am.
Also long forgotten are the names of those
I dated once or twice
and neither celebrated nor suffered after that.
And as I remember
I count myself lucky to be alive
and I continue my quest
for Nirvana or Dulcinea or Snow White or a clone of Ellen Mason,
I am no longer harangued by the sleeplessness, the tempest and the yearning through adolescence, the 20s, through the 30s , 40s, lurching through my 50s and half-way into my 60s . . .
Still, I will not concede surrender to the solitude,
which some call defeat, which today surrounds me,
this circumstance evolved from midnight masquerades
and lessons learned,
illumined by the burning wisdom of the sun.
I shall contemplate moonlit truths reflected
through the years and I shall savor them in softer shadows.
Still I shall love that siren song
that moved me to rise from the rubble heartache and try again,
the melodious hopes penned by writers of fairy tales
Still shall I harmonize with them,
a willing accessory to the cosmic roll of the dice for love
and living happy ever after.
It’s easy to acknowledge — now — what I wanted to be close to
to touch and kiss and devote my life to — and I did, all too briefly,
a few times — over the years:
The last four words of the poem have haunted me since they came to me and I wrote them down so I would not forget. “A smile and” came a week before I decided to focus on writing the poem last Monday night, and I’ve re-written it, re-sequenced things, knowing from the start how it would end. Also coming late was the turn to the hopeful resolve to continue playing the game before dropping the phrase that has remained — like a dull dial tone — part of my consciousness daily. I considered writing a song around the phrase, and I still may do that, but it will not be a reverie. It will be a song about the power . . . . the magnetism . . . . of a few wet inches.
Live long . . . . . . . . and proper