Friday, February 15, 2013

A Walk in Central Park

    I went for a walk today, like a tourist, which, in a way, we really all are-- just passing through.  It was an irresistible winter day, not something you can say very often in New York City.  But this one was, filled with sparkle, and none of the weather from the dire predictions, radiant with sunlight and warmth and the gentleness of melting snow, and a little boy named Spencer stomping on what was left of a hardening heap, crystallizing and lightly sprinkled with soot.
    I passed my friend William Shakespeare-- (I wonder if his legs were really that good,) paid the homage I always do when going by him, stopped by Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott, massive, wonderful statues on either side of what i think is Poet's Walk, or maybe Writer's, and wondered, as usual, what FitzGreene Halleck is doing there.  Probably he wonders, too.
    When I was first starting out in life, at that point when we allegedly determine what it is we want to be when we grow up-- in my case, way before-- I wanted to be a poet.  Pelted with poetry by my father, a pharmacist/poet manque, I had started spouting it myself at a scarily early age, and by seven or eight had aligned myself with Longfellow, probably not the best choice, but what do you know when your father's been reading The Highwayman at you.
So The Children's Hour hung heavily in my head.  You remember?
       Between the dusk and the daylight
       When the night is beginning to glower (a word I thought heavyhanded, e'en then) Comes a pause in the day's occupation
       That is known as The Children's Hour.

So sitting in the Boathouse Restaurant, looking out at the frozen lake, sipping on not a bad glass of Pinot Grigio, talking to two racily charming Italian women at the next table-- you can always make friends in New York as long as they are from someplace else-- I took out a little notebook I had brought along that had in it some poems I'd written in this park on earlier occasions, and found this:

Between the day that my life shall end
        And the year that I thought to begin it
        Came the pause in my Solipcism
        That is known as the Children's Minute.

        I hear in the bedroom above me
        The toddler that calls me "Mom,"
        And by the time I climb the stairs
        She's dressing for the prom.

The little boy with the pinchable cheeks
        Huffs and puffs up a hill of stone
        And by the time he reaches the peak
        He has two little boys of his own.

        Why didn't I spray them with some kind of glue?
        So they'd stay at that huggable age
        Oh, they say that time flies, but it literally flew
        Giving not enough time to engage.

        If we could but know at the start of the game
        That Life isn't a fair referee
        For there are no "Time outs" and there's no one to blame
        But yourself, for not stopping to see.

Oh, well.  The ladies from Italy have invited me to visit them in Lucca.