We have been cruising, half a block
at a time, my wife, my two children,
all morning, and I have been pointing out
unhurriedly and with some feeling
places of consequence, sacred places,
backyards, lush fields, garages, alleyways.
“There,” I say, “by this big cottonwood,
That’s where I dropped the fly ball, 1959.”
“And in 1961,” I say, “at this very corner,
Barry Sapolsky tripped me up with his gym bag.”
My son has fallen asleep, my daughter
has been nodding “yes” indiscriminately
for the last half hour, and my wife
has the frozen, wide-eyed look of the undead.
“Maybe lunch,” I say, though I’m making now
my fourth approach to Curtin Jr. High School,
yellow-bricked, large-windowed, gothic,
where Frank Marone preyed on our terror once
and Janice Lehman walked in beauty.
“Salute, everyone,” I say, “salute,”
bringing my hand up to my brow as we pass
the gilded entrance, “This is where things
of importance happened,” and I am pulling out
from under the car seat a photo album
of old school pictures, “Page 8,” I say,
“Fred Decker, John Carlson by the bike rack,
Mr. Burkett … ,” and driving on, following
the invisible map before my eyes.
Now we are drifting toward my boyhood house
and I am showing my wife trellised porches,
bike routes, more than she’d care to see;
“Why this longing?” she says, “What about now,
the kids, our lives together, lunch, me?”
I give her a kiss and turn right on Cherry
and there in front of our eyes, barely changed,
is the house where all my memories converge.
“Look at the windows of my room,” I say,
“see, there, the shadowy figure moving behind them?”
And before anyone can hope to answer,
I have grabbed my camera, I am snapping
pictures through the windshield, bricks,
dormers, railings, fences, streets, all
are falling thrall to my aim.
“We could be happy here,” I say, putting
another roll of film in and beginning
to nose my car toward Bill Corson’s house.
“Really, Daddy,” my daughter says; “No chance,”
my wife tacks on, but all I’m hearing
is the crack of bats in the neighborhood lot
and Danny’s pearl-handled cap gun going off
and the drone of bees around honeysuckle
and Dewey Waugh’s gravelly voice
urging on his mower, and the sound
of wind in the cottonwoods is like water,
I am coasting, there is time for everything.