I got a Facebook notice that my high school class is staring to plan for our 30 year reunion I found both a dread and the itch of nostalgia forming within me. The dread I address in the poem below. It had nothing to do with anyone who will actually be in the reunion, but a multiple source dread with its roots in reflection, death, and the question of what creates the good life. Question that the below boy (me in High School) could not understand. Questions that I am beginning to live into understanding.
The thin ice of reflection freezes enough
in the cold of a High School reunion being
planned to hold you from the fear of falling
into the dark waters of remembering. I fear
the bully of my youth. The one who will laugh
at my life when I return, even as he never grew up.
His dreams still wallow in the mud of unknowing.
It is he I fear most.
Distance in time and space creates a blackhole
of accounting from one’s life. No so much
for those once friends, enemies. and acquaintances
who are, in reality strangers wearing faces
you vaguely remember, but for the judgment
of the teenager you once were. It is he, the bully,
and his dreams and his pettiness that holds
you at knife point. Have we measured up
to the sweating dreams under the cap and gown
of the kid we were? What could he have known
of the melodrama of death, or of the drift
of age, or even of having failed his dreams.
I failed his dreams, but his dreams needed
to be rethought through like a Chem 1 experiment.
Dreams of the young and foolish will fail,
I see his face faintly see it in my mirror.
He could not know how much love
of my family: wife and son would
Can we march to that dream of returning
10, 20, 30 years later, triumphant in conquest.
As if an ending zero means much of anything.
Then comes the realization that our numbers
diminish with next parties zero. 30 years
and the first of us are having grandchildren.
The loss of hair, of eyesight, of steps
balanced by the gain of pounds, of regrets,
and yes, triumphs. The real bullies are the wrinkleless
people we were. The hall dances with them.
The wear the ugly yellow band of hall monitor,
disappointed with our tardiness. He, my
bully of memory wedgies lacks the mysteries
of love, of time, of fate. Faith has to be lived
into. And this, and this, and this is the secret
the secretes from our lives lived, and
eludes the boy bully. He played games
with only assumed rules of his making.
The truth bully fails to notice in his
mocking of my life. I have seen more than
that boy had imagined. I have shed tears more
than the bully had laughed. The flow of blood
that makes the love is beyond that boy
I was at any age.