This morning, the narrator
of the book I'm reading
is trying to fall asleep listening
to a tape on physics. A crisp
scientific voice is explaining
there's no such thing as the past,
that each moment exists forever
caught in a stringy tangle of light
and mass and I remember
this woman I hardly knew
telling me she lost her virginity
and finalized her third divorce
the same date the atom bomb,
code named "Little Boy,"
was dropped on Hiroshima
killing more than 155,000 people.
August sixth, 1945. Louis Armstrong
died that day in 1971 and in 1948
a freak heat wave off the coast
of Central Portugal pushed
temperatures up to 158° for two
minutes. "Wouldn't It Be Nice"
was a top ten hit that week
in 1966, the summer I kissed
a girl and felt my first t-shirt
covered tit playing 'Seven Minutes
In Heaven' with Geraldine Quinn
while my friends stood outside
counting down the seconds.
I thought about a Saturday
in that same summer. My team
beats St. Kevin's rich kids, wins
the 8th Grade, CYO championship.
The girl I like sits in the stands,
her hair wrapped high in curlers
as I strike out the last guy
with an inside fastball. I punch
my fist in my mitt, hug
John Calamari my catcher
and roll on the ground
with everybody else in a jumble
of joy. I'm sitting on
the bench, untying my spikes
and my dad leans down,
"Three for four and a no-hitter,
that's what you're supposed
to do, all damn time." He smiles,
slaps the bill of my hat.
Later, at around 7:15 or so
I realize it's the anniversary
of the day my father died.
I call my mom and both
of us find it hard to believe
eight years have already passed.
Always, I want Mickey Mantle
to be chasing down fly balls
in Yankee Stadium, Thurman
Munson lining a two out double
into the gap and tying the score,
Jeter making that back hand flip
against Oakland over and over.
Somehow, it's always the night
after Christmas. Snow falls
in fat sexy flakes. Suzanne
walks over, sits on my couch
and plays with her scarf, says
she doesn't know why she's here,
she really loves her boyfriend.
I've never done anything
like this before either. Usually,
I'm slow and awkward,
but I start kissing her like
I know what I'm doing
and she kisses me back softer
and deeper and walks through
the kitchen and into my bedroom
then comes back the next night
and both of us start to fall in love.
And tonight, when I turn out
the lights and pile the covers
high around my head, I wish
that physicist was singing me
to sleep, a sweet rhyming lullabye
in angelic Brian Wilson harmony,
telling me all about another
woman I love, her son's
big, green, owl-shaped clock
sitting on his dresser and how
he keeps it set to the same time
no matter how many nights
I sneak in while he's sleeping
and move the owl's wings. It's
3:12 again. His mom has his arms
and I have a hold of his legs.
We're swinging Jesse, higher
and higher until he nearly
scrapes the ceiling. We let go
and he is flying, suspended over
his big soft bed and laughing.