To My Young Husband, 1963

Hung over, when I got your call, sitting at my desk in midtown Manhattan,
bent over a calculator, my logy mind replaying the night before,
Village streets black with slush, our youthful gaggle trudging
under the stars, from Bistro to No Name to White Horse to Chumleys,
laughing and tripping on curbs, chug-a-lugging under amber lights
in cozy pubs with drunken friends, as our marriage melted
with that year’s snow, “Blowin’ in the Wind” blowing off
jukeboxes as Dutch and Big Whitey and the real novelist argued
whether Blakey or Zoot was the best jazz on the west side.

You rang while I was looking for aspirin in the bottom drawer,
unable to balance the company books for November, ruing the things
we didn’t say last night before we curled separately in bed to sleep it off.
Your voice shook, high pitched, unnatural. “Tom?” I said, my skin rippling,
instant fear just from the heave of your breath at the end of the line. “Tom?”
Foreboding, all was lost, your voice all tears, my stomach squeezed
into my throat, and your whimper in my ear, just as my boss’s office door
swung open and our own natty president, always dressed in jacket, vest and tie,
emerged from his leather sanctuary in shirt sleeves, tears behind horn-rims.
“Go home, go home, they’ve shot the President,” he said, going from floor
to floor of his publishing house, while we sat bug-eyed, silent, frozen.

Before my eyes, Jackie’s day-old baby came back to life and held his little arms
out. She had survived that summer of pain to come to fall? I held out my hands
to catch her, and the infant,as my dead father’s B-17 spiraled to the earth again
and I wanted to catch that young aviator, and my poor mother with her leg
sprouting a bloody flower in a hotel room in Africa with a violent new husband.
I wanted to clasp them all, and you,husband,too before the floors dissolved,
before we flew apart in space, particles of meaningless matter. Our Jack
was dead, Camelot gone, and Martin Luther King’s dream of hope for the table
of brotherhood, that tablecloth tie-dyed in blood. There was a terrible
secret in the wood pile of America—a hate so deep and evil, so inevitable—that
even the hearts of the living were weighted down with headstones.

Fifth Avenue was an undulating sea of weeping citizens clinging to each other,
for comfort. Some collapsed against light poles in grief. The streets teemed
with Americans headed for home, for safety, to loved ones to reassure them
that the world could go on. Voices on subways wailed like trains to Auschwitz.
New York, an Infermo of outrage and grief. Not in America, we said,
with no idea of all to come. We sat in front of TV sets for days, watched the newsreels
run over and over and over and over again, unable to turn away.
The pink hat, the convertible car, the grassy knoll, all a part of us, a carbuncle
on our brain—-a gun exploded on our screens to murder the murderer. We were monsters
in Death’s own horror film. You and I held each other, never closer than in the aftermath
of those terrible days. After the tears and the sex, the wringing out of grief, our eyes finally met to say goodbye.


oh bev!

wrenchingly beautiful.

so--you're writing again.
me, too. a novel came to me, almost whole, today during meditation!
thank you, MAS. You are so dear.
You are in the full flush of some sort of creative orgasm. I hardly had time to marvel over your latest painting before reading, “To My Young Husband, 1963.” From now on this will be used as an example of what a prose poem is and should be – a tragic and poetic vision related in language up to the task. I climbed aboard the Kimball Avenue bus that afternoon to find everyone, including the driver, weeping. You bring it all back. Even after the tears and the sex, the wringing out of grief, we still cannot say goodbye.
thank you, Buck, I blush with pleasure.
Bev, that is powerful.
Thanks for reading, Barb!!
Yes. This was when everything changed and you have completely & beautifully captured it,Bev. Thank you. Nancy
PS Anything you can't do??
Thanks, Nancy. Can't believe so many years have passed since that day....
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