313 Troy Street
I don't know how to commemorate a life
except to show a snapshot of it
exactly the way it was
at some point in time
or, at least, exactly the way I remember
The poets say to be concrete, specific.
So I've turned my lens to their house
that weathered old nondescript place
across the street from the mill
I've tasted peanut dust and machinery hum
in mid-summer afternoon haze
watched a little white-haired woman
brush off the porch with a sage broom,
cuss horse flies under her breath.
I have racked my brain for details
I have gotten most of them wrong
The color of the carpet is fuzzy
I do not remember the neighbor at 311
the wall where the deer heads were
blurred subjects of yellowed pictures
or the yawning black maw of the fireplace.
But this much is vivid and true
and bathed in blazing technicolor:
There lived in that little old house
the greatest love story I've ever known.
I was fourteen, an eye-rolling know it all
when Granny told the story of their first date
the bumbling bumpy ride to Snellgrove's Mill
the dashing, daring figure he cut
when he dove headlong from the bridge.
I imagined the girlish squeal, the flood of relief
when his head popped up, turtle like
She said she could have killed him
instead they were married
for more than fifty years
clinging together through
poor and crumb-scraping poor
through ruddy health and the last stages
of time-shifter disease
and everything in between.
This, I believe, is where she is now.
They are on their first date
young and strong and beautiful
She has leaped off the bridge to join him
without fear or pain or hesitation.
He is waiting
and the water is fine.