An elderly man in a baggy gray coat and black shoes
and black slacks and a baggy hat
drifted down the sidewalk, lost in thought
or maybe memories, while smoking a pipe.
Awash in some vague sense of guilt, I wondered
if this would be me in fifty years. Except, falling short,
I would not now touch a pipe – or cigar, either –
and seldom wear a hat.
Paradoxically, at the time, I believed
I wouldn’t live to be more than thirty-five.
Big transformations were around the corner.
The scene was definitely urban, though
not necessarily metropolitan. A college town would do
as well. There’s no way of knowing
how we’ll age along the way or
how our past and future will overlap
in a particular moment. What bookends
or end irons will embrace our lives.
And then, a year after she asked
where I thought I’d be now,
there was no way of knowing
it would be a farm in the mountains,
with wild strawberries. I’d anticipated
Boston or public relations in Indiana
or even law school instead of this journey
into texture, the senses, and sensuality
after psilocybin, mescaline, and acid.
That summer, while watching
a tongue in a penny-size mouth keep pushing
the pacifier out, in its desire for the real thing,
the truth became obvious: there are better
legacies than being born with a silver spoon.
Grandfathers have grandfathers, too.
It’s children or their mothers
who make a neighborhood
as much as anything.
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