William Wordsworth ended one of his most famous poems with the phrase “…and the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts”
I remember wondering about the meaning of life and what the years ahead held for me. I pondered deep subjects when I was 16, 20, 25. Mainly I wondered if HE would ever love me, if anyone would notice that my clothes were old and poorly fitted, if anyone would remember me, if I would be invited, accepted. Those aren’t such “long, long thoughts.” Maybe Wordsworth wasn’t referring to teenagers and early 20’s Youth. Maybe, by youth he meant people who still had 50 years to live and that when we get about halfway we start wondering what the hell we’re doing here-who we are in general. I don’t mean religion. That’s a club set up to make sure no one has to question too deeply, that no question goes unanswered, nothing remains unexplained-even if the only explanation requires “blind faith.”
The pieces that follow are bits that came up in some of my “long, long thoughts” but I think they apply to everyone sooner or later. Comments welcome.
The Woman I Could Have Become
That could have been me. That woman there, walking by dressed in Ann Taylor. Her smile is warm and shows off perfect white teeth. She’s reaching up just slightly, her firm tan arms reach for the shoulders of a tall well-made man. He’s smiling down at her. His teeth are white and perfect too. Look, they’re walking slowly now, his arm at her back, Now, his hand is moves lightly to rest on her trim hips. Their heads are leaning toward each other as they walk in perfect time. Look now, they’ve arrived at a car, something red and new. He’s holding the door for her. Such a gentleman, he is. She’s turning her face to him flashing that perfect, white smile! How lightly he steps after he closes the door. So happy, satisfied. She looks so happy, satisfied. They’re driving away, smiling, happy and satisfied.
I could have been that woman; who’s to say I couldn’t?
Early Morning Hike
Clear notes of a Cardinal slice through the air.
Rustling fallen leaves mark the path of a black snake.
Painted lady shivers on a daisy petal.
My shoes beat rhythmically against gravel and sand.
Aging should be a good thing. I might as well think of it that way since I can’t stop it. Even if I had the money for cosmetic surgery, I could only make it a little nicer, take away some of the tracks of pain. How could I cut away the roots of it? Wouldn’t the bloom of it still show in my face, given time? Better to step out of my own cage, focus on the outside – other people, children, animals, making and creating. This incessant introspection has left me exasperated and tired. Tired of myself and my ceaseless need.
Unbidden memories slice my senses – a lion on unwary antelope
ripping away the fragile flesh of years exposing the still pulsing heart.
Bleeding, draining into the everlasting earth.
How did I love you? With my heart, my mind, my body. Not until you left did I love you with my past, my present, my future.
Why did I love you? Because you asked me to; oh you did. With your eyes, your smile, your arms. Only after you left did the question become the answer.
I saw you in Belk’s- I knew it was you before I sighted the familiar beard. Your salty clean scent pressed against my senses in Kitchenware . Whirling around my arm shot out to steady a display of crockery shaped like cabbages. My eyes locked onto your familiar gait -broad shoulders above the shoppers between us. When you turned your head to follow a pretty teenager I saw your profile for the first time clearly, at a distance. I watched you watching her, following her until she was out of sight. You bumped into an older woman and never even apologized.