Friday, June 10, 2011

"Friday Night Frolic" - On Becoming a Freshman

Max--with 'lil sis-- his first day of 1st grade.

He slept in late this morning
this, the first of long summer days
that sit between the afternoon’s high heat and high school.

He wheeled off on his dad’s old Santa Cruz
moments after Mama bandaged the scrapes on his elbow,
from the fall at the edge of the sloping driveway.

He, resisting iced peas as aid,
stepped back on the narrow board,
and tacked atop the hot, cracked pavement.

Out of Mama’s sight,
to the club across Nate Whipple Highway
where the pool had just opened.

She wondered if she should have driven him.

Last week, the pediatrician’s standard inquiry: you like girls?
the boy grinned an affirmative answer,
conceding his broadening affections.

They hadn’t had the sex talk.
Or had they? It was time. 
It was not. It couldn't be.

Sketch pad and kneaded eraser tossed on the table,
trilobites, igneous rock, northern Pangaea,
participles, exponents, realism a closed chapter.

Middle school books to be returned to the town,
(seems yesterday they were just covered)
a tattered grey lunch bag and chewed pens to replace.

The sky receded with indigo clouds,
a growling acceleration of a squally evening. 
He’d left on four wheels screwed to a wooden board’s bottom.

She hadn't mentioned the hour to return
when he appeared at the door, sweaty, flushed, puffing,
thinly beating the rain spew, white hot vectors, the air collapsing in on itself. 

The green of the grass deepened as the storm rolled over,
lights flickered around the house,
Dirty Harry flashed from the TV screen.

Six feet tall, shirtless, shoulders that had bolted 
it seemed, overnight, unwinding on the leather couch
he looked casually at his summer reading list: Dickens and Dumas.

How wide the space had grown 
between the little boy of first grade, Dr. Seuss, crayons,
and the charcoal prints he brought home yesterday.

There's a slow, woody nightshade unfettering,
scrambling over the trellis, a liberation,
ever so rooted in that vessel called home.

* * *

Peter Wolf, former lead vocalist for the J. Geils Band (I still have their old vinyl "Blow Your Face Out"), has released seven solo albums since leaving the band in 1983. His latest, Midnight Souvenirs, was released in 2010.

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