842 BEATEN 7-2-19

Father was fifty,
still strong, aware, viral,
a womans mans-man,
but never loyal enough
to be a one-woman-man.

I was twenty,
a cocky college sophomore
chocked full with new-found
but unsubstantiated wisdom,
habitually playing the fool.

On Thanksgiving break from school
I’d stopped by Dads Manhattan pad
before the dreary subway ride
to Grand-Aunt Genevieve’s
Brooklyn town-home
where Mother
holed-up
in a post divorce depression.

Dad and I talked away an hour or so,
played two games of chess,
(each winning one)
and I made demonstrations of departure.

The gleam in his eye arrived,
just in time,
his inebriation and bullish Russian maleness
joining in the challenge,
“Want to wrestle?”.
His urge to,
once again,
prove himself to himself
for the cheap price of his sons humiliation
was more than he could control,
(an unfulfilled semester having passed
without a confirming tournament)
and I could neither deny him
nor bear his disappointment.
So comes the ritual slaughter of the son
in an arm wrestling liturgy on a kitchen table.
A Mass for the affirmation of a life long domination.

But this time,
I had a surprise for him.

(There was a new weight-room
in the basement of my college dorm
of which I had become a frequent denizen.)

I have cherished,
for decades,
that look in my fathers eyes.
Embarrassment, shock,
the loss of something much cherished,
as his world shifted beneath his feet
and Time became,
for the first time,
his enemy,
but with not a glimmer of pride in his son,
perpetrator of his defeat.

I ground his hand into the table,
once more ,
for the hell of it,
let it go,
rose up,
strutted to the door,
turned,
said,
aping a British accent,
“See you at Christmas, old man,”
laughed
and left.

I am seventy, now.

My eleven year old grand daughter,
whom I taught to swim two years ago
at the lake,
beat me today,
for the first time,
in a two lap free-style race
at my clubs pool.

Just another inconsequential,
but,
momentous moment in life’s
inevitable string of defeats.

Feeling now
what I didn’t feel
at a kitchen table
some fifty years ago,
I would,
if I could,
go back there
to slap myself across my face
and try to find
balls enough
to NOT slam my fathers knuckles
on the formica
just,
maybe,
one more time.

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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