The Best For Last


Florence Catherdral

If I remember correctly,
I was lying in bed awake
when the images filed one by one through my mind
something like this:
the first was the Florence Cathedral
(It was astonishing!),
probably one of many stops on a vacation in Italy;
next was a computer printout
of a large and still expanding investment portfolio;
then I saw myself
basking in the admiring smiles of my business peers.
Pleasant pictures, you might think, but not for me.
They were the chimerical rewards
poking me in the eye
for the big business I had never built.

Following these,
as if their witnesses,
came several important business prospects I had not taken the time to see;
then me listening in my parked car to a thoroughly absorbing audio novel.

I guess the first act required a second
because along came me at fourteen years old
dropping a full gallon of milk on the kitchen floor
and watching the white liquid splash over the shards of glass.
I winced in anticipation
of the sorry sights yet to come,
but from somewhere behind me I heard a whisper (I think),
“What’s with this dismal procession?”

The query
must have catalyzed the list of the remaining parade entrants,
for what should drift by next
but a train of girls approaching me at a roller skating party
because I was the only boy who could dependablya
stay upright while both moving forward and holding a girl’s hand;
then came a bicycle whose coaster brake I had repaired;
and next, the crack of a bat against a softball
followed by the sphere arcing far into the left field
as I ran to first base, and second, and third.

Then I watched a customer telling me
about his love for Model T Fords;
and, I guess for a bit of offbeat humor,
a purchasing lady with an amazing map of wrinkles on her face,
speaking hoarsely through a cloud of smoke
over an ashtray filled with the detritus of days of work.

And, as if the parade was reordered with the best
(or at least the most peculiar)
for last,
I saw myself sitting in a coffee shop
—a hot mug of dark roast and a chocolate brownie before me—
as I penned the first draft of a little poem.

Roller Skates

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