How peculiar, how odd are the things that
become bookends in time. Insubstantial
as a scent, color, flimsy as paper.
No cornerstone these, but yet they become
anchors of memory, bulwarks for the hard
decisions. Once I saw a grim plump man
drop a hundred dollar bill. When I tried
to give it back, he flinched, and rolled his eyes.
The third try, he took it, putting the bill
in his money clip, hitching up his pants
at the same time. Then he insisted on
buying me a fifty cent beer on tap
and sitting with me while I drank it all.
Every drop. No chitchat, no eye contact.
Twenty odd years later, walking the dog,
a young man strolled by the park, just about
the same age I’d been. He smiled. I waved back.
He started to walk towards me, his hand out,
some sort of paper in it. “No, thank you,”
I smiled. “No …” he began, then shook his head,
jogging towards me, hitching up his pants,
sliding his money clip in his pocket,
shoving a hundred dollar bill towards me.
Once, twice, … I take it as if by reflex,
asking him, “Why?” I really want to know.
He shrugs, dimples, and looks me in the eye.
“Just because,” he grins, waits expectantly.
I pause, then put my hands together, and bow.
“Thank you.” He bounces on his toes, happy.
I watch, baffled, as he strides down the street.
That was yesterday. Today, at the bank,
they gaped, “True story?!” “True story,” I said.
Three tests later, “Hunh, and the bill’s even real.”
NOTE: Yes, folk, I missed posting this on the right day. I was working on this poem, writing it for the 15th (ironically Tax Day), when my son became ill and I was unable to finish it and post it. So, this was written for the 15th, but posted on the 16th, and backdated. I cheated. I’ll try to write another poem so that NaPoWriMo doesn’t get off schedule. — pfa.