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Forty-five

“But the word and the deed go hand in hand.”
    ~ Paula Abdul, “Straight Up” from the album Forever Your Girl (1988)

It’s Sunday this year
A good day to retrace the prior years
Since the Saturday when I was born to a home
Whose address was designated only as RD2
Like the other homes on that road
Whose name could depend on who you asked
Like Grandma’s home
Like the trailer my dad’s brother had long since rolled in
Across from hers
Where the view down the road and over the pasture
Changed with the movement of cows to and from the barn
Where the mailman knew your name
There were no strangers
And I guess everyone knew
How everyone felt
Or they could’ve put it into words
If any words were worth saying
Weren’t they these?

Retrace, retrace
To the first person I remember saying
Or rather writing the last two
Which count too
In a yearbook now at rest in a landfill
To the second person
Who also instead of speaking wrote
In a book whose first page bore the last message clearly
From no one but her to no one but me
To the third who’d just collected a thousand US dollars
For setting me up with a Florida job
Had in celebration gobbled the food I’d bought
On all but my last borrowed dollar
Then upon my protest took me shopping
To buy us both more
And that night as we crashed in a living room
Of his buddy whose welcome we’d worn
From up there on the couch said the whole thing
In a near whisper but aloud
Adding “man” at the end
To my cute little sweetie
Who tells me every day
And holds me tight
As I lap it up like a growing pup
The only one of them I’ve kissed
Finally to the woman who now lives alone
In the trailer
On that road now officially named for a berry I’ve never known
To grow there
As the postal carrier must no longer know everybody
But we remember
To phone the Easter Sunday after her husband’s passing
And she tells us both
Over and over and over

In the last couple weeks the president unveiled a plan
For the year I’m fifty-eight
For passenger car fuel efficiency to be double what it is
This September Sunday
My dream’s more modest
Why should I have to engage all my fingers
I’d just like to make this count
On more than one hand

Thanks always returns

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