Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Swing \ Trimmed

Nancy:  My feet still know the moves, my mind hums the tunes, my senses replay the routine: lift the needle, flip the record, wind and go.


When I least expect it, the yammer
of news segues into one of those “best of”
features and I’m not sitting here
in a sagging cabin on the Bay of Fundy
but it’s 1944,45 something like that
and I’m sweating and swaying on the 2nd floor
of the old firehouse, so hot that the purple
ink stamped on the back of my hand
is smearing.  We didn’t air-condition July
in the forties.  The firemen put on
a dance, 25¢, every Friday night in July
and August, 78s and all the water you
could drink and good luck finding a partner,
three hours of maneuvering, or, if you were shy,
of slouching or twirling at the edges of the room.
Eventually the chief called last dance and finally
even the shy guys picked out their girls
and the old floor whispered under penny loafers
and the dirndl skirts and eyelet blouses melted
together and flowed down the stairs into the
night, breaking apart and drifting into the shadows
like a string of pearls.

Alan: Middle age can feel like adolescence inverted: the same disconnect of self and body, body and surroundings, except this time it’s all diminishment, all the way down.


The man in the mirror
looks to be in his fifties, older than he feels,
but there it is.  He reveals
bad teeth, mouth beyond lopsided,
responding affably to the barber’s small-talk;
and neck – much neck tapering to the suggestion of chins.

The man receives his modest trim,
a little off the ears, leave some to comb on top,
grateful for hair enough though gray;
and what are the kids getting these days?
“Mushrooms! mushrooms, mushrooms!”
And then: “Want one?”  A jest: a jape.

Ear-hair clipped, eyebrows tamed again,
the whisk and he is rising,
surprised and pleased that it is less
than expected: surprised to be pleased,
wondering at his small good fortune,
pocketing the three dollars change.

In the far high corner the sports channel
endlessly reveals people with impossible bodies
performing the impossible.  The man
is departing the mirror, or disappearing
into it, considering: next the bank, laundromat;
maybe, as reward, coffee with a little light lunch.

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