In Which John Lee Crow Decides It Is Time To Go Home

Well, why not me, I reasoned (no surprise to friends and loved ones,

As I have always treated my time on this spinning patch of rock

as something of a monument to the value of pragmatism)

But there were still the normal sine-wave vacillation

Between tenuous optimism and statistical grim realities,

Fanciful discussions concerning Chinese herbs and Mexican clinics

And, later still, of time frames and stock transfers,

All the while various folks attired in suits and clinic coats

Debating matters pertaining to the coda of my personal symphony

(Doing so as if yours truly wasn’t even in the room)

Until, deciding my input might be somewhat pertinent, I said

If it’s all the same to you, I would like to go home.

 

It was, in a sense, like getting back on an old Schwinn

(Fender dented and rubbing on the front tire just the least little bit,

The chain needing oil, grudgingly giving in to the demands of the crank)

Sitting, unused but inordinately patient, next to the barn,

The whole notion of settling back into a pace you’d forgotten,

Like dialing back a metronome from allegro to andante

Without missing a beat or flubbing a note.

What’s more, there were the sensations you’d never made time for

While under the thumb of daily deadlines and train schedules,

Greeting you like friends you hadn’t seen for twenty years

But started gabbing with as easy as slipping on old jeans:

The scent of the lilacs, overpowering but borderline mystical,

The informal yet precise ballet of the cattails and jewelweed,

The fields of cows that, even though you know it can’t be the case,

Are populated by the same Bessie and Bossie

You taunted and pelted with watermelon as a child

(I have made it a point to proffer my apologies),

The dark, pine-choked hills, formidable but accessible, even comforting.

Sometimes, when I am not paying attention,

I catch myself all but tearing up, and I say to myself (ever so softly,

As not to disturb the squirrels and the wrens)

I had almost forgotten. Christ forgive me,

I had almost forgotten.

 

 

I’d assumed—sometimes, I can be astounded at the full extent

Of my own foolishness—that she would merely take a leave of absence;

She has, after all, an alphabet full of advanced degrees,

A rainmaker’s reputation and the billable hours to match.

Columbia and Harvard Law, after all,

But she grew up down the road just a piece in Ebensburg,

So this is all part and parcel of her as well

Hard coded in her DNA for better or worse, she’ll say,

All the while shaking her head and laughing softly.

Surely you don’t want to stay here, I’ll say,

Boorishly rational in the face of everything

Which would argue to be otherwise,

You’ve read enough Forbes and Fortune;

Altoona is dead, Johnstown is dying,

And she allows that, for a time,

Coming back was the source of some misapprehension on her part,

Until it dawned on her that on those rare occasions in Mid-town Manhattan

It had occurred to her to glance skyward,

She had seen faceless tiles of windows sufficient to sheet a Great Pyramid,

And an Armageddon’s worth of angels and gargoyles in the cornices,

But she had not, even once, ever seen the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “In Which John Lee Crow Decides It Is Time To Go Home

  1. When one reads your poems, one must secure a pipe and a bib, like when eating lobster. Because there is a vast truth so obvious one needs to read, wipe slober from chin, then reread. This one is no exception. The second stanza hit home for me, all the nostalgia and watermelon slinging (followed by apologies to bessie) was rendered perfectly to fit the “Christ, I am almost forgotten.” While that stanza hit my emotional core, your third did something magical, taking the awakening of the narrator and transposing it onto others. She had never once seen the stars….sounds llike a harsh judgement and apt assessment all at the same time. I remain amazed at your abilities to embrace the common elements and then transcend to that other place, introspection. Take this not for granted Kortas and carry onward and upward.

    viva la,

    PS>>> Just an FYI, the entire time I read and reread and reread this , all I could here was Dylan’s “The hour the ship comes in.”

  2. You write some of the best parentheticals I’ve ever seen! … “(no surprise to friends and loved ones,
    As I have always treated my time on this spinning patch of rock
    as something of a monument to the value of pragmatism)” … This sounds like it’s straight out of a novel—and a well-written one, at that. 😉

    These are some of my favorite lines:

    “But there were still the normal sine-wave vacillation
    Between tenuous optimism and statistical grim realities”

    “Like dialing back a metronome from allegro to andante”

    “there were the sensations you’d never made time for”

    “(I have made it a point to proffer my apologies),”

    “I can be astounded at the full extent
    Of my own foolishness”

    “an alphabet full of advanced degrees,
    A rainmaker’s reputation”

    “And she allows that, for a time,
    Coming back was the source of some misapprehension on her part,”

    “She had seen faceless tiles of windows … gargoyles in the cornices,
    But she had not, even once, ever seen the stars.”

    Excellent work, as always.

  3. Those two, Isy and Flip, nailed it. I was like a kid–too long, maybe I’ll come back–but couldn’t leave. Your writing is compelling and seems effortless, tho given the depth of the emotions and motions, I am sure it is not. (She’s right about the city too being too bright to see the stars. Emerson did not anticipate this.)

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