“To Paul”– a poem by Susandale

February 11th, 2021

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photo by Rachel Stricklin/Twenty20

photo by Rachel Stricklin

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To Paul

Yesterday removed from the warm artery of time
And the ground beneath my feet shrinking

Falling
…………Falling
……………………Falling
into the ramshackle cottages
leaning together on the streets with no names
The streets cradled between sad, shadowed lagoons,
And all streets ambling down to join the water feet of the Lake
United, they danced on the currents that rolled them all the way to Canada
before they turned to splash back again on Rye Beach’s shores

Onwards to return to yesterday, only to roll out again

Trying to catch up with myself
I kicked stones down the road
to your house
You told me once that Buster Brown hung himself in it

Over a wooden bridge
On one side, an island holding a lone log-cabin
On the other, the cove where turtles that hatched from broken shells
quickly scrambled to the waters of a lagoon that flowed into the Lake

Busy, busy, the carpenters at your place
Bustling up and down ladders
While holding onto nails, roofing, and boards of all sizes
“What are they doing to your house, Paul?”
“It’s alright, Sue. I don’t live here anymore.”
“Funny you should say that. On the way over here
I stopped at my place and strangers were sitting on my porch swing
And the empty lot next to our carport
The one where you and Rae tossed balls and ran bases
Now it has a house sitting on it.”

And the currents rolling on to Canada were rolling back again

We swam over to the pier and watched schools of baby catfish
wiggling through the seaweed
And at the park by the Lake, we swung on swings
to see who could pump up the highest
We licked cones from the Dairy Queen
that sat next to the trailer camp
Then we stopped at Tim’s place
for rounds of gin rummy and a game or two of checkers
But the shadows skirting the edges of afternoon, began thickening
“Tim, can you give us a lift?”
“No can do, Sis is cruising around in the jalopy tonight.”

And so we wandered around: asking and searching
And that’s how I’ll remember you, Paul
Your back turned and your arm flagging down a ride for us.
A ride to home

Then I awoke, Paul
To realize that you went home

Home, past the sad, shadowed lagoons that cradled the cottages
leaning together on the streets with no names
Past the old wooden bridge and the strip of sand
scattered with driftwood and broken seashells
Onwards past the Rye Beach Inn with the jukebox
that swallowed a quarter then shot out three songs
You picked Get Your Kicks on Route 66, and played it twice
One for me: I played Lover Man.

Past the little woods of pines that Dad cut down
and sold for two dollars apiece at Christmas time
Beyond the block of cottages built completely of tufa rock
Moving onwards beyond Kaferlys’ Tavern
With statues of Jesus and Mary on the tables
Pictures of The Sacred Heart on the walls
And beer on Tap

Home, Paul
On an inner tube, you floated out to the far horizons of forever
Then climbed over the rock piles that held back the tides of time
To go, and yes, you’ve gone
all the way home

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___

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Susandale’s poems and fiction are on WestWard Quarterly, Mad Swirl, Penman Review, The Voices Project, and Jerry Jazz Musician. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan. The Spaces Among Spaces from languageandculture.org has been on the Internet. Bending the Spaces of Time from Barometric Pressure is on the Internet now.

You can reach her by email at [email protected]

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Listen to Sarah Vaughan sing “Lover Man”

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