Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Who Knows Where the Time Goes?"

(Thank you to Sandy Denny for the song.)

For the spirit of Kathy Robel Braganza (July 18, 1944-October 21, 2010)

In Freshman English
a strawberry blond wearing
a tailored plaid suit--
suit for serious student,
red and green plaid for not so.

We were pals in class--
outside of class she lived at
home, I in the dorm--
and while she studied, I drank
beer with my Indian friends,

scotch with the seniors,
scoffed at bookworms like her, as
I supposed she was.
Later, she pandered to Pope
while I hung fast to Dryden;

she swore I was nuts
after I nailed my version
of Mac Flecknoe to
our professor's office door.
Satire can be personal,

designed to piss someone off,
I told her--clearly,
I was not a serious
student like she tried to be.

For a right-handed
person, Kathy had a left-
handed acting style:
said she would invite me home
for dinner sometime if she

thought I would accept.
That's when I met her parents
and saw it was tough
to be the last one at home
of a long rope of siblings:

the hand-me-downs are
out of style when you get them,
your parents are tired
of pushing kids to become
adults, and your romances

have no audience
except if you get married.
You were the first of
our group to march down the aisle,
and I was too hungover

at your reception
to pour the pineapple punch.
Four lovely children
later, you went to work for
our Freshman English teacher,

and I fished you out
to become the truck driver
for a new co-op--
a short-lived government child
that produced one suicide

before closing down.
In a few years we were no
longer all that close:
I moved to New Mexico,
and 10 years later moved down

to old Mexico.
Before I left for a gig
in the Middle East
we talked in your living room
about why I loved teaching

and why you didn't.
Your peonies and roses
were like my students:
we nudged them into blossom.
Your flowers are still with us.