Lost and Found (December 20, 2001)

Dear fellow citizens of Earth,

As a winter solstice offering to y’all (yeah, I know it’s kinda New Agey but it’s been that kind of year), in the true LateBoomer DIY spirit I thought that, in lieu of quoting still more lines of Other People’s Stuff, I’d offer up a sort of verse I scribbled off a couple of years ago. (No, I haven’t set it to music…I don’t see it as a song at all, but if someone wants to send me some chords to accompany I’ll split the publishing.) ; -)

Looking ahead, the blank slate of New Year’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays (Thanksgiving being the other, probably because it’s neither religious nor too overtly patriotic), and since this year has been one of pronounced change and transition for me – and of course, not ONLY for me – I thought it would be an appropriate time to post this. Or at least as good a time as any.

My sincere wishes for a fulfilling and joyful season-of-whatever; it’s been a Lost and Found kinda year all around, and in two-zero-zero-two, may we all find the things we need to find and lose what we’re better off without…


Lost and Found

When I was four or five, or younger,
I had a tricycle, red and white,
And on the back was a mail slot marked LETTERS
In the style you find on children’s blocks
(Were the letters red or white? can’t remember)
The cover hinged and oiled, solid steel,
And one Sunday I was riding the trike on my city’s concrete sidewalks
with my grandmother walking alongside
And she gave me a letter,
sealed and stamped with Washington’s head, five cents,
and I put it in the slot,
The cover swung closed with a clank
And away from her I pedaled.

Twenty minutes later, I stopped and checked the letterbox
And the letter was gone.
It had vanished; it was magic.
And I wondered: Where had it gone?
I still can’t figure it out.

And I have conjectured often, over the years:
When you die and go wherever, are you presented
by the authorities
With a squarish cardboard box
Containing everything you’ve ever lost in life,
All those hats, socks, umbrellas,
The quarter that rolled into the sewer in Sixty-seven,
The baseball Paul Melnicki threw on the roof,
That unopened Heineken you forgot on the stoop of 166,
The appointment book last seen at the bus stop,
That raincoat you left on the flight to Atlanta,

The part you should have had in the school play,
The girl you wanted to marry at 17,
Your grandmother’s concern,
Your mother’s first dance at your wedding,
That city you never moved to after all,
All your lost worlds?


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