1968, the year of the assassins,
We have come to the lake
Where speedboats crush the waves.
As the sun sets, the water-traffic
Dwindles until it ceases all together,
And the wavelets become calmer
And quiet with each passing hour
Until we fall asleep in our shore-side
Cottages, and the lake completely stills
And becomes a mirror
For Ophiuchus , the celestial snake handler.
I was eight years old, going on nine.
I am 53 now. It stuns me. I keep saying this.
Decades go by like months.
Though she has been dead 20 years,
I talked to my mother in a dream.
I sat with her. People walked right in
And acted like they didn’t see us.
They used our furniture. They played cards.
“Your father is at his place,” she said.
“He is no longer with you?” I asked.
I find my father at his place
And he is soaking in a whirlpool bath.
His place has everything: a doctor’s
Office—the doctor is out—and a cafeteria
That doubles sometimes as a fruit
And vegetable market. It’s amazing.
I ask my father if he is happy,
But he just shrugs and slumps
Down into his bath. “Is it important?”
When I was eight and at the lake,
A girl my age took my hand
And led me down to her part of the beach.
I touched her skin and made
Small buildings from wet sand.
Hours passed. Naturally, my mom
Thought I had drowned,
And when she found me she was trembling
And furious. The girl’s father
Assured my mother that I was
A real gentleman.
My mother’s anger withered me.
My father teased me about
My new girlfriend. It was her
Family’s last day at the lake
And I never saw them again.
My sister protested that I should
Have secured the little girl’s address
And kept in touch. A day passed
And my mother seemed normal again.
I rode my bicycle on the roads
That edged the whispering bay.
There is no way to end this, and life
Is clearly one ridiculous thing
After another. Sometimes, I feel
People look at me and expect
Some kind of miracle. Why would
They expect that? Obviously,
Nothing is going to happen.
The miracle is we each live a story
That really isn’t about us at all.
Just now a person walked in
And looked all up and down
For someone else who obviously
Wasn’t there. That’s your basic plot line.
It seems to work for everything.