Cleveland Poems: A Suite (1 of 3)
LEAVING VICTORY PARK
We left the pool together
after such fun with friends
that you risked being late,
and my bike’s banana seat
made easy what was awkward
so you climbed aboard.
Having dreamed of this moment
I pedaled slowly, wishing
the journey might never end
and you had no choice;
I can see that now.
“We’ll never get there in time”
you said, and I was embarrassed
but I knew you understood,
knew by your kindness
and the trusting way
you held on to my hips
when I returned from my reverie
and pedaled furiously
to deliver you on time,
just as your family sat down to eat.
You would pay no penalty
and I set off for my own home,
my own family meal.
That was my introduction
to the puzzling nature of love,
the moment I first understood
love could be more complicated
than a pretty girl, a summer day
and a Schwinn Stingray.
– Joseph Neely, all rights reserved
I spent my elementary school years in South Euclid, Ohio, a close-in suburb on the east side of Cleveland. It was a wonderful place to grow up. The events described in the poem happened just as described. I sometimes wonder if I should share a copy of this poem with the girl – most likely a grandmother now, of course – depicted in the poem. I don’t want her to think I’m a creep, but there’s this . . .
My wife and I ran into a gentleman we both know recently at the grocery store. She grew up in the same neighborhood as he did. He was a few years older and had been considered very cool and handsome by all the neighborhood girls. As I paid for our groceries my wife went over to him and appeared to whisper something in his ear. When she came back I jokingly asked her, “What did you do; tell him you had a crush on him back in the day?” She said, “Yes, I did.” Somewhat taken aback – jealous? – I asked her, “Why did you do that?” Her answer reminded me why I love my wife so much.
“Because now we’re old and have all sorts of problems, so sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of what things were like when we were young.”
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Joseph Neely, all rights reserved