Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Closing Out One's Eighth Decade

The Reminiscences of one of us reaching his Eightieth Year

Must we give up everything,
Is there nothing we can take with us?
Chianti? Aristotle? Arcadia?
Memories of phosphorous laden waves
crashing on a moonlit ocean beach,
Jane Dintzel July reciting
Her John C. Siboney routine,
The green of lilac leaves in a bowl
an the white enameled kitchen table?

Sailing in a 16 foot long wooden boat
Made in Skaneateles New York,
Red comet logo on the white mainsail
Above the number 374,
Three brass letters and a number
From a draw in Duryea's hardware store
Nailed on the transom named the craft LCU2.
The boat was Austin Barrets'
He sold it when he went to war in 1943
I sold it to The Hoogh Kirk kids in 1952
When drafted into another war;
You,Frank, already off to sea in a Merchant ship.

More than fifty years gone by since Then,
The end of twenty summers
Of watching moonrise over Robins Island,
Tides rise and fall along the shore
Of Great Peconic Bay
The old song says "They can't take that away for me".
Kitty Carlisle died this year at 96,
She sang "I'll Remember April",
The song The Wasson's porch crowd can't forget.
That was 1944-adolescent heaven,
All the world but us engulfed in war.
Were we blessed or merely over privileged?
None of our class mates at St. Malachy's fared so well.

The Fitzgeralds spent the summer at Centereach.
There wasn't even any water There;
Ralph Salerno got as far as Commack
To help out at his parents' hot dog stand.
Others spent two weeks or a month
In a Catholic camp, 'Molloy' for boys,
'Immaculata' for the girls.
Those years we heard of camps in Europe, too.

Going back to Brooklyn in September
was the price we paid. Wearing shoes
Sitting in a classroom, no longer waking up
To seagulls, waves slapping on the shore.
Not sand and cedar trees but sidewalks,
curbs and streets outside the bedroom window.
I'll remember April. "They can't take that way from me".

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