Friday, October 7, 2011

Old Men Leaving Parties

It was clear when I left the party
That although I was over eighty I still had
A beautiful body.
                 --Mark Strand, “Old Man Leaves a Party”
Leaving the party, I crossed the graveyard and walked out onto the beach. Following behind me, another old man I recognized, vaguely, called out my name across the distance. I took off my shirt and dropped it by the lake shore. The wind pulled at my hair, which though it had turned white was still thick and luxurious. It was hair to pull your fingers through. Hair to dream of alone in bed at night. But it was the muscles of my back and the raw power of my legs which over-filled me with pride. They pushed me onward past the lake, the city, the burning countryside. Out past the old gravestones to where my hole was already dug. I stood beside it, breathing in the night air, looking down through the darkness at a party. From out the hole, climbed a man, over eighty years old, leaving that party. He stopped to marvel at his beautiful body, staring at me as though I were his mirror. He turned and began walking. I would have followed him anywhere. I called out to him but could only remember my own name and he was already so far away.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

From Out of the Attic

Going through the attic of your mind, you come across a box that used to be so dear. You looking at it and remember that time. You see that person you used to be. You try to smile, but instead turn your head and stare out the attic window. The sun is low in the sky. October has come to chase away the summers. A squirrel sits on a branch outside the window. You see what a horrible thing a squirrel is. A rat with a bushy tail. You’ve heard that before. Its bite as rabid and infected as a sewer drain. As dangerous as a box you’ve pushed to the back of your mind. You recoil and hit your head hard on the exposed beam. You curse and bend over in pain. Your closed eyes orbit stars. You open them against the pain. Your one hand rests on the box, the other holds tight to the bump forming on the back of your skull. You reach down. Pick up the box. And you walk down all the flights of stairs and out the door to the curb where you drop the box hard in the street. You turn back toward the house, looking up at the attic window. The squirrel is there. Doing no harm. You’ll be damned if you don’t think the thing is cute and wonder what it was you feared. The October air feels warm. This is your home. This is your time. This is who you are. Tonight while you sleep, the box will be taken away.