826 A WALK IN THE PARK 4-12-19

( fair warning: This is a long one…. )

I’ve been coming to this park
since my Mother carried me.
I romped here in my childhood.
Green fields and woods
in the middle of my
Brooklyn neighborhood.

I buy a pretzel
from the food cart vendor
at the entrance gate.
I chew it down to
a small, doughy nub
and suck the salt.
It makes me thirsty,
but I like it.

I stand on the sidelines
to watch the young men
play flag-football.
Billy, the now-all-grown-up
little boy from my block
is quarter-back
for our neighborhood team.
He passes a long spiral
to his buddy
as his buddy dashes past
some Latino kid on the other team,
who scrambles to catch up
but he’s too slow.
Billy’s team scores
one for the ‘Hood!
I’ve done that before
and Billy knows it…
His Father has regaled him
with tales of my
legendary prowess
on the field,
back when his Father,
too young to play,
watched me –
as he squirmed in his Mothers lap.
Bill smiles at me.
Now, I’m just an old man from the block.
He tosses me the ball.
I catch it,
feel the smooth, brown leather,
the raised, red N F L.
I grip the laces.
I would throw him a bullet
if not for the castonets
that the bones in my shoulders.
have become.
I toss it underhand, instead,
a spiral, never-the-less,
and my mind remembers
my touchdown passes
and the sweat on my back and arms.
I’d played a good game.

I walk away.

I see,
up on the hill,
just beyond the boulders
that have been there
since the glaciers,
that couple on that blanket.
Always there!
as though their seed and semen
will never run dry.
Though I am no voyeur,
I steal a moment to catch
another glimpse of them
and I breathe in
a deep memory of feminine scent
and in my mind,
the blanket is mine
and the girl is my Rachel,
back as she was when we
started to love each other.
She waits, now, for me,
resting in her recliner
in our apartments living room.
for just this moment,
we are lying on that blanket
and our new loves lust
consumes us
and I feel that bulge
in my Levis
and if I do not come
my balls will ache
for a week!
And there,
at last,
is the echo of a pulseing
in my groin.

I smile at my sexy nostalgia,
knowing Rachel will,
as always,
sleep on her side,
with my body pressed to her back,
two old spoons
in a silverware drawer

and that will be enough.

It will have to be,
until heaven,
or our next stroll around the block.

I walk past
a gathering of young mothers,
each wearing a kerchief,
each pushing a stroller
as her baby
or shakes his rattle
or giggles
or spits up his breast-fed-milk.
Some of the mothers heft on their hips
their too-heavy-to-be-carried toddlers.
They chatter about baking challah,
and what the Rebbe said last Sabboth
and their husbands, how they work too much,
though their new Frigidaire is beautiful!
It holds so much more!
It even has a drawer
for the brisket.

I wonder why their kosher husbands
are not with them.
Why their husbands
are wasteing this precious
sitting in their living room
reading the New York Times
while their wives forge
iron-clad bonds to their children!
Don’t Fathers realize
that just as Winter comes,
a chilling time is coming
between them and their sons?

Then, I am alone.

I look for and find
my old, park-bench friend.
at his favorite spot
in the shade of the
oaks and maple trees.

He waves me over,
granting his consent.
I may approach his throne.
Though I don’t need it,
I accept it.
Like the pauper prince,
I may sit in His presence.
So I do,
enjoying this game we’ve played
all our lives,
though by now,
the game has aged into ritual.

The bench is also old.
It groans a bit
when I sit.
But it will not colapse,
not just yet,
not today,


Oscar and I
grunt our greetings,
grumble about last nights
Yankee loss to those
God-damn Red Soxs.

We grow older sitting there,
watching the football players,
the make-out pair
and the mothers with their babies.

I remind Oscar,
though he needs no proding,
that I too have tossed a good pass
and necked on a blanket in the grass
until my lips were raw,

and cuddled my children
and changed my grand-childs stinky diaper
and pushed her pram
and worked hard to buy a new fridge…

and by rote,
Oscar confirms,
as is his antiphonal part in this liturgy,
“the essential nature of my existence”.
Then, he chuckles about how
“…desperate you are for affirmation!”
He is wise.
He knows me well.
And he reads!
Such a reader
is my friend,

When the sun slips behind the tenaments
across the street from the park,
the shade grows colder.
Oscar starts to shiver
and, complaining,
“I’m getting too damn old!”
he rises to leave.

We mumble our usual farewells,
agree to meet tomorrow,
as if this ancient daily habit
requires an appointment.

And I am alone again.

Oscar is good company.

As is memory….


it’s more than memory.

For a few moments,


throwing that long touchdown pass,
and kissing my lady,
feeling the wet,
in my underpants,
a different wet
than what happens to me,
to my embarassment.

I am,
for this little while,

what I was.

I will leave the park,
soon enough.

It’s getting late.

I will leave the park
and my many selves
(if just for this little hour),
greatful for the sum of my years,
this afternoon,
and that quarterback,
and that Don Juan kissing machine,
and that


I used to be.

I rise and walk to the park gate.
I tip my fedora
to the horse-police,
rub the horses nose.
He knows me.
And I him.
His name is Ralph.
We are friends.
He whinnies,
wishing me a pleasant evening.

And Najir,
the pretzel guy from Lebanon
as he pushes his cart on to
its parking slot in the alley,
slips me a cup of coffee,
a free-be.
I am a good customer.
His arm around my shoulder,
he says to me,
“You and me, we are mechspuka!”

And I know Rachael is smiling now.
She has checked the old wall clock
and she knows by the quieting traffic
and the darkening daylight
that I am homeward bound.

And then,

comes the night.

About Ken Greenman

Married and Happy. Retired and busy. Living in NC. 71 and counting. December 12, 2020 and it's 72! ... I would love some written comments, critiques, adulation or kind suggestions.... If you have the time and or inclination, please feel free! Not in fear but by faith. We will see. See you later! If you ever want to talk for real, email me and I will send you my cell number.... I am enjoying this!
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