Going to Connecticut

—for J.R.

More than a third of a century later,
meeting for the first time in almost all those years,

we face each other’s still somewhat familiar faces
across a table in a California restaurant,

and wonder why we did it, why we suddenly said
that night in July in Greenwich Village

“Let’s go to Connecticut,” and got on a train
and ended up at midnight in Old Greenwich, Connecticut,

holding hands on an empty road that wound past
serious grown-up sleeping houses ....

Well, I was fifteen, you were nearly twenty-one, we were experimentally
“in love,” and I guess it must have seemed

like “something to do”—better than Remo anyway,   
or the coffee houses, or the Eighth Street Bookstore,

even, in that scratchy heat,
better than Jones Beach: the long low

sober train boring into a wall of black, the alien   
townships spurting past on either side

(nothing very built up then),
each with its deserted, brilliant platform

malting for the next day’s passengers, the real   
people who really needed to ride that train.

How cindery the windows were,
and spooky with moths outside the glamorous

club car where we sat with sodas   
on itchy plush reclining seats!

And how the crickets simmered   
where we got out, dizzy on 7UP!

Remember the hedges—lilac, honeysuckle—
along the way, as we walked toward

we didn’t know where?
                                 We kissed a little

under one, tasting salt and 7UP   
on each other, not sure what next

or where, then peered at
the shadows on lawn after lawn, the dim

bulk of chimneys, shapes of shutters,   
here a trike, there a plastic pool,

and couples snoring, mysterious,   
behind those tall white walls,

until we got embarrassed, still not sure what next,
retraced our steps, boarded another train,

and were hurried back to where we came from,
feeling like voyeurs, like trespassers.

Sandra Gilbert, "Going to Connecticut" from Kiss the Bread: New and Selected Poems 1969-1999. Copyright © 2000 by Sandra Gilbert. Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Source: Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems, 1969-1999 (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2000)
More Poems by Sandra M. Gilbert