I didn’t know what I had: she had
given me three very thin, almost dry
blades of grass shorter than my thumb.
Just before class. She blushed as she
opened the hotel envelope and showed me.
I reached under the fence at Graceland
I want you to have them. Her voice was soft
and rushed, as if she didn’t want anyone
to know. She went to her seat, and I
shoved the envelope into my briefcase and
started the class with the typical 1961
instruction: Open your textbooks at page….
It took that twenty-something a lot of years to understand
that there was something to understand about that.
He had to watch his own kids go through their own dramas,
develop belief systems different from his own, become
obsessed with music he couldn’t comprehend, clothes
and friends that made no sense; and he had to change
into different clothes, music, friends and belief systems
that he would have believed impossible in 1961.
He had to watch his hair grow gray and his muscles sag
until they disappeared from the framing of the mirror
and lived more in imagination than in flesh.
But even then, having understood there was something
to understand, he could not go back and understand it.