Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why You Don't Grow Up

Bobby was remembering
long after the fact
what he did not do.
It was too late to go back
and do over the errors.
Cathleen said back then,
Why don’t you grow up?

He had confessed to her
he had no way
to give her the life
she deserved. She left,
and would not return,
nor would he go to her,
until long after he let
Clark pay the rent
on the houseboat when he left
to live across the street
from Green Lake,
with the woman named
Carole, who loved
his curly black hair,
told him he was handsome,
and took him home with her
to stay all summer.

Brubeck and Desmond
played across the street
on the grass that summer.
He idolized Paul Desmond.
Much younger, he’d wanted
glasses like Desmond’s.
He didn’t grow up fast
enough to keep Cathleen.
He didn’t want to grow up.
It was a mistake to be
what you would never be
if you were Bobby,
but what was a Bobby
other than a London cop?
This was far from London:
Why don’t you work more
and think less?

He was smitten, as ever,
with Carole, as with all
the women he was lucky
to know. He loved her
Modigliani neck, silver hair,
eyes round as a lady owl’s.
She came from a ranch
north of the city, grew up
riding horses, she said
when he asked
about the imprint of a hoof
branding one thigh.
She had tried to hide it
but he saw it as she slept
at first light. A little later,
something in her let go,
flooding the bed, his body
and hers, with love’s spill.

After their affair was over,
he would remember her
as fondly as Cathleen,
who claimed his affections
and would never let go,
though his three months
with Carole were too brief,
to be followed not far off
by the long three months
residing in Ward Seven.

Their days were for work.
She gave him company
nights they went downtown
to hear the big names--
Getz, Gillespie, Miles–
appearing at the Penthouse,
or when they didn’t need
to splurge, to Pete’s
to hear Jabbo Ward on sax,
Freddie Schreiber on bass,
among the peanut shells
off Alaskan Way . . .

She made no demands
and he went his way
and so did she
after one did all a body
could do for another body.
Was he growing up
or going back down
where he came from?

(26, 31 March 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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