(For Dick & Angie)
It was the early 1960’s when high school was everything
it should have been, and all that it shouldn’t.
Drinking and driving was not only the norm, it was
weekend routine, along with partying and fighting, if needed.
We fantasized finding a Mrs. Robinson, while reality
found us experiencing uncertainty with women our own age.
Forecasted by brittle branches and gray leaves, the inevitable illnesses and
deaths took seats at our 50th reunion; perennials until we weren’t.
Dick was too ill to attend, so we gathered in his hospital room and
retold tall tales until his comedic spirit forced him to smile.
The last time we saw him alive was at his daughter’s home; we
stood like silent tombstones — surrounding his bed.
He felt like shit and was cranky as hell; so one by one,
we wandered off like tumbleweeds — collecting at the kitchen table.
But in short time, he appeared in his wheelchair--
rolled out by Angie, his high school sweetheart and angelic wife of many years.
She gently parked him next to me. I instinctively reached
under the table and privately held his hand.
He looked at me with calm astonishment — both of us a bit bewildered.
But I like to think it was just what he needed.
I know it worked for me.
For many of us, June of our senior years in high school remain the most significant month for vivid graduation memories no matter the number of educational degrees we may have later acquired. At least it is for me. I graduated high school in June of 1966 and we celebrated our one and only (as of this writing) high school reunion in 2016, our 50th. That evening inspired this poem as well one I will share with you in an upcoming selection in several months.
This poem was initially published in the January 2021 edition of cc&d magazine, titled “You Won’t See Me,” vol. 305. I surprised the “Angie” of this poem with a copy after its publication and received a thank-you note more beautifully written by her than anything I could ever hope to produce.
Joseph J. Ridgway, Author
In addition to writing children’s literature historical fiction, Ridgway is an award-winning poet, being consistently nominated for numerous prestigious Pushcart Prizes for his stellar poetry. Further, the author is an accomplished essayist, with his writings appearing in a variety of nationwide publications.