Two Poems

  Loving Backwards   “Me me me” is what Dad says, “me is all you think about and you are selfish.” I forget what I did. Dad works hard all the time. I always say I’m sorry. Then I am sorry.   He does not have time to throw ball and run. I can’t catch or throw, and things. I don’t care. Or even want to get picked even. But everyone says, “that boy sure can run.” I am very fast.   I don’t even like to be around a whole lot of boys, so camp is out.   I’ve lived a long long time. Here, I mean. I will be fourteen and have new duties. I will have to play a horn  at school. We march now and I get mixed up. We dance in the gym. I get mixed up. We tumble and I get all mixed up. And we  have to take naked showers after.   I think if we lived in England it would be better.   I like science. That is what is really coming. I have two friends in science. This girl says we can go to college and be scientists together.   In England we would talk in English and not in Texan.   I  should be better in Home Room and Writing. My report card said I  “dawdled” in the remarks, and scared me at first. I thought it meant I touch myself. I certainly did not there anyway. And Miss Pool could not and did not or anyone else see me at home.   My sister is selfish too, and now we have separate rooms. She just sits in there after school and doesn’t do her work and just listens and listens with her big glasses to Johnny Mathis with her hair in stupid curlers looking stupid.   Sometimes I hear grown up music without any words. It makes me sorry I am mean to her.   She is always writing in her Dear Diary. She says, “ Don’t even look at it!” She keeps it locked and I don’t even care anyway. She is older. Then I decided I will write a  Dear Diary but all in one day and say everything that can ever be said and things that no one better ever see. Which I am  already doing. In my head.   I watch adults more than they think I do. We have parties now and I sit in the hall, or watch around the corner. They come at night in suits and nice dresses to sit on a really long sofa, drink highballs, listen to Music Man or Irma la Douce or George Shearing, which is the most relaxed, on the new hi fi. They are all friends and laugh a lot.   They were all in a war, were near one, or heard of one. But its over. One man in a black suit always comes, and his wife. He got shrapnel in his behind and limps with a cane that hides whiskey in it.  He has fancy cigarettes and an English type hat. He sings along to Music Man and everyone laughs and claps. Then he tells jokes then gets loud and drunk. Then his wife says its time to go.   He walks like Frankenstein and it is scary.  He says “I will give you some advice”,  then I cant understand a word. She says “ come on.”  She is all in black. Her hair is tight and short and black. She puts him in a black Cadillac. They had no children. They say she has style.   I’m going to drive a Cadillac and have an English hat. Suddenly she got cancer and died. Suddenly. Then he died right away suddenly too. He could not stand at the funeral Mom says. She says he drank himself to death immediately. I will drive a Cadillac, but I will avoid wars.   Mom does not feel very sorry for people like when Marilyn Monroe lost her baby. I never know if she will be happy in the morning, or throwing things around even before I can get up to make her mad.   Dad works hard and is never at home then. She hurts us in ways Dad doesn’t know. She throws herself down in crying fits, and says we are killing her, or they will take her away and it will be our fault. Once she tore the Bible up and said it wasn’t real.   Then she says she’s sorry and cries, and we all cry. Then she tries to make it up. And the next days are good, then it’s back to the other thing. I am sorry for her. I’m tired of love except for the dog.   I could try loving backwards a little at a time until I am back out of it again. I’m going to be careful  of love and not  do it that much again. From now on. You love somebody but they are mean and cant help it or they die and are gone forever and then what?   I wont ever get married.   Its just like people going to the problem store and saying  “excuse me,  we need some problems.” And I’ve given up on England . Now I am through with the Adult Part.   I am going to start dressing the way I want but not at school. I put on my Sunday Palm Beach tan jacket but it so hot so no shirt but shorts. I want ducktails like Liberace, so I used Mom’s  Silver Hi Lite Spray on the sides to make ducks, and part the hair differently. Then the red cowboy boots I was allowed to have. I try a very very little powder on my face because I am getting too dark. I am learning the bop and the stroll with Barbara  Peetree. The lady next door asked me why I looked funny. I asked her if she could mind her own business please. Very nicely. She called Mom.     Barbara is very quiet and we are put together as dance partners at school. I don’t feel as shy with her.  And I can breathe.   This picture got passed around study hall of two people doing sex so I know all about it. At night I touch myself and I think about what happened in the garage.   Donney’s sister was there and she showed us everything. She was smiling and we were. When I think about the garage it happens. I am thinking about her in the garage all the time. Even in class and I don’t hear the teacher, and I am afraid the bell will ring. If you do this a lot, can someone see it in your eyes? Donney looks down a lot.   And now the church part.  I don’t want to grow up and lose God at the same time.  They say it can happen because life is hard. The art teacher says  “art is suffering.” So I am thinking about science. I want to grow up soon and get a job that is not too hard or where I don’t suffer.   One more thing. I heard you are supposed to love yourself. Just How are you Supposed to Love your own Self? Everyone knows that is Impossible. It takes someone else. And I do not think that God is mad at people who want to do sex either.   I had Biology. Everything does sex. Is God mad at Everything? I just looked outside, and it is still a pretty day.   So when I get a job that is not too hard (Science) here is my plan. I will get my own place right away. I am getting a Cadillac or  an English sport car. I will bring girls or a girl to my smart new place very often.   We will drink highballs, listen to Shearing, be in good moods, and do sex.   Now I have said everything that can be said, and she is still just sitting there listening to Johnny Mathis.  
 
  Early but Late     Early but late, in summer’s winter, in evening’s dawn, I stood by the gate, or where the gate stood and now was gone.   But in the mind, mindlessly holding nothing, rusted hinges swung soundlessly in this world’s hearing.   In the weeds there was a clearing,   and with a hand, from eyes I hid the lifeless sand, and with the heart’s heart I gave it loam and grass, The wind stopped, and so it would not pass,   I laid my finger on the air, and colored fountains burst up from the land, and you not here, yet there you stand.   I laid my finger on the air and hollyhocks and swallows I painted for my pleasure there, and things my eyes saw not to see,   things that could be, that could have been. Early but late and the garden gate, and through I went, yet here I stand,   and often and seldom am I seen again.    
David Williams lives in Gambier, Ohio, moving there with wife, of forty-six years, Phyllis, from Columbus, Ohio. He grew to adulthood in Dallas Texas, , attended University of Texas, (premed) and North Texas State University (English, and German majors). He was employed by Texas Instruments as Semiconductor Technician, and Columbus Children’s Hospital, serving as Clinic Coordinator among the Pediatric and Adolescent Clinics. He and wife travel abroad frequently. They are avid gardeners. Phyllis Williams photo.