(From my novel “Within the Bosom,” as envisioned by “narrator” Janis Elizabeth Samson, writing about an afternoon in her father’s memory.)
Who, really, can guess what a 75-year-old man will find
when he spreads his memories out on the kitchen counter
and shuffles them with his wrinkled fingers?
First kiss, surely. Prom night? Maybe.
The Big Game? The anniversary trip to Venice? The births of his children?
The way the light flickered across her face the moment he fell in love?
The death of a friend? No doubt. And, yes,
“The reminders of every glove that laid him out or cut him.”
And, sometimes, root beer.
Yes, it’s there too among the candy wrappers and the lint and the grains of dirt.
A boy on a hot July afternoon. Nothing to drink for hours.
Dust everywhere. Sweat. The smell of popcorn, spun cotton and fried bread.
A steady, annoying prairie wind.
Small hope and a dime so precious.
But dizziness, too, and a mouthful of powder. So, finally,
he risks it, and imagine that! It slakes his soul. He feels it in his tongue,
his teeth, his gums, his shoulder blades, his chest.
Dear God, his knees!
Amazing how far a dime on a sweltering afternoon can stretch.