Class of ’63

 

He’s searching for a pair of

sea-green eyes, a strand of

streaked blond hair, the full lips

he hungrily kissed by the lake in

Central Park some fifty years ago.

 

It all comes back,

impromptu concerts on the A-Train,

grimy stations with “Bird Lives”

sprayed on every wall,

Marianna playing Debussy

on her shiny Baby Grand

while her cross-eyed zayda

makes strudel in the kitchen,

the large hands of the pretzel man

who shouts “getemwhyltherhot,”

petitioners for world peace

jogging in place to keep warm.

 

He listens for a Magyar accent,

he watches for a handkerchief

held in a moist palm.

The women’s hips are broader now,

the men’s backs slightly bent,

their faces marked by tiny lines

like the drypoint etchings

they used to do in art class.

Without their plastic tags,

he’d be hard-pressed

to recall their names.

 

For the umpteenth time, he’s telling

the nickel version of his life

when he hears her voice.

He turns and half a century

collapses like kindling in a fire.

He’s seventeen again and

love is flaring up so strongly

he fails to hear her husband’s name.

 

(Originally published in Every Day Poets)

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