Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sunken Meadow

An image comes to me, of you, dancing in a yellow dress, slightly tipsy, wearing no make-up, your head thrown back, giggling. A straw hat upturned in the sand, afternoon sunlight through leaves, the scent of seagrass and salt air. Your shadow dancing too. Our shadows dancing with one another the way they used to. I forget if we were drunk or stoned, or both. I figure what's the use of words if I can't use them to conjure you. Shite. Isn't that what words are for? That's how I use music -- as my effin drivin' wheel. I wanna tell ya bout my baby.

I shut my tired eyes - too much daylight, too many hours peering at toxic screens -- and saw those kids, scruffy, heedless, not giving two turds about worldly matters. Money was worthless, authority sucked, politics was a whore's game. Wear a white shirt and tie? No way José. Own a home? Not in effin Plasticville, bub. I look back at those kids, the immortal ones, climbing their ladder to the moon, reaching for the poet's silver apples. They could smoke a pack of cigarets and run a mile, drink a quart of hooch and perform like effin princes. They could come all night long and eat cold pizza for breakfast. Sons-of-bitches.

I open my eyes in Sussex County, New Jersey. The cliché slides into mind -- the past is another country. I'm supposed to be living in the here and now. Yeah, right. A couple of weeks ago, Walker told me about the drunken girls at J.'s summer solstice party, gathered round the punch bowl, daring the guys to drop their pants and dip their meat. It was too much fun, the sloppy impersonal blowjobs, the spitting, the coughing, the laughing. J. told her, "I tried so hard I had tears in my eyes, but I couldn't get off. It was like it was happening to somebody else. These were all women I knew. Who cares? We were all shit-faced anyway." Walker, whose son is the same age as J., adds, "It's so sad, the inability to connect." I think to myself, maybe someday the drugs they use to treat loneliness will work.

The moon ain't silver, it's a balloon. Effin poetry -- don't believe any of it. Let's go back to Sunken Meadow in the late sixties, the palm of your hand on the flat of my back. It was so warm. Looking for shark's teeth and those flat red stones that bled against your fingers when wet. There was a story about those stones, how they were used by the native tribes of Paumanok to paint themselves before combat. Probably an apocryphal tale, maybe some truth to it. Just like most stories. I can tell you one thing -- I remember putting my lips to the birthmark on your brown shoulder and leaving my breath there.

What words? What music? The kids may be listening to the same tunes we used to listen to but they aren't hearing the same thing. They know more than we did. They know that we failed to change ourselves even as the world changed. They see that we didn't keep the faith. They've come to recognize our bullshit. When we tell them that we tried to love one another, they have no idea what we're talking about and couldn't care less.

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