My woman friend is younger than I.
I don’t mean this in a boastful way, she simply is. Hey, I don’t get it either. Aging boggles my mind, makes my head hurt and I try not to think about things like that. Perhaps I interest her as preview of what’s to come. Or perhaps she just enjoys my presence. People are strange in their ways and some things you just take on faith. Whatever gets you through the night. It is what it is. And I do not know why. Sidestepping all that – we take rides together. Get in the car and just drive somewhere we’ve never been, it could be near or far, and we talk about the oddest things. Today we are going to a pancake house.
I maneuver the car while she talks…”So I am reading Barryman, The Dream Songs, and I still can’t get this Mr. Bones, dude.”
Why can’t she mull on the weather like everyone else. I’ve been reading, The Dream Songs on and off since I was an adolescent and I still don’t get it. It is because I do not have the nova like brilliance of a Barryman, the same scenario with Robert Lowell. Both of them troubled giants — it is almost a bad cliché. No that degrades them, they were simply tremendously gifted people whose wisdom did not save them from human frailty. I suddenly realize I am older than Barryman was when he leaped to his death.
“Granted he is an old, white man but he is gifted, right up there with Emily Bishop.” She says. “They are a few of the headliners’ of the Confessional Movement along with Robbie Lowell.”
“Robbie.” I say. I realize she is younger than me, but still these where some of the gods of my youth. Robbie my ass, its Robert Lowell writ large and strange. Still, better to keep it to myself.
“Yea Robbie,” she says. “You read Barryman; don’t you find The Dream Songs difficult?”
“I believe they are impossible to be completely understood. Barryman wrote in his 366th Dream Song, “These songs are not to be understood, you understand. / They are only meant to terrify & comfort.” I find they do that quite well.”
“And too think I am the English professor,” she says. Sweet Jesus, what did I say? I hope she doesn’t lecture. Think, think, think. She’s an academically aggressive feminist, youthful — calm the waters.
“Yes you are, look how much you have taught me.” I say.
“That’s not going to work, pal.” She says. “Let me phrase it another way. Doesn’t it bother you that you can’t get a better grasp on it.”
“No, “I say. “It’s not to be understood, but felt.”
“I will reexamine and let you known,” she says. “But this is not the end of it.”
“Pretty nice day, don’t you think?” I ask. Trying to steer us away from anything academic, she does not debate she argues. “Hope the pancakes are good.”
“Smooth, that’s what I like about you old guys. Still, we are going to revisit this.”
“Bumpy roads are us,” I say, as I set off for somewhere else – smoother terrain.
Our conversation is beginning to sound like bad dialog. Do other people still talk about poets, or have times become so empty they are forgotten, or worse become novelties. There was a time when Poets were the rock stars of their time — what the fuck happened. And why the hell do I care.