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.