When I am old and have become
One of the ladies of the Solarium,
Will those quiet nights of padded footsteps
In deserted hallways
Bring back memories
Of what could have been?
Will fragments of those memories
Resound louder than the hushed voices
Of nurses’ aides and return
To haunt me in my aloneness?
Of that stranger in Wyoming
Who, after looking under the hood of my car,
Looked at me just as carefully and said,
I could fix this by tonight
But won’t you stay a few days instead?
Oh, how I wanted to stay.
But I said no, and what was denied
Accompanied me home.
How can I forget that night,
When he refused to charge me for his work
And quietly said, instead,
“Get in your car and go. Just go.”
“Why” I asked and then I knew
When his boss with belly over his belt
Came running and yelling,
Angry because I had said no
Of that stranger who bought me chocolate ice cream
Outside a grocery store
Oh, how we talked and laughed,
Two strangers, without names
But our souls, oh, so connected.
Our names both etched in gold.
How I ached to finish this scene
Produced so many times
In novels and films.
But I said no.
Of a stranger in Florence
Who screeched his truck,
As I walked non-chalantly down the street
In my newly acquired white hat.
"You speak English?
You and me,
We go dancing, tonight?”
He danced around me
Holding an imaginary me in his arms,
I said, “ No, no speak English.”
And that young Italian in Venice
Who held my hand and said I was beautiful.
I withdrew my hand from his “Come with me to the Lido.”
That summer evening in the piazza.
Of what could have been….
Will they wet my pillow tonight?
frances h. kakugawa menu
( after a visit to the nursing home)