‘Well, she was just seventeen/You know what I mean’ 2022 – by Lois Bassen

You’d need an archeologist’s trowel
and brush to unearth 1963 when I
was the Beatles’ just seventeen…not
just standing there. JFK said we would go
to the Moon, then his assassination.
MLK had a dream, my parents the accident.
Early Decision, I skipped senior year, so
I was a year younger than my classmates
who were daughters of editors, deans,
presidents of banks, businesses, and a region
of Romania. Like Wharton’s Buccaneers,
but on scholarship, I worked at the library,
checking out books, counting catalog cards.
An old custodian confided how he met his wife.
“I want to hold your gland,” a soph sang down
the dorm hallway, top of her voice, daughter
of the only Democratic mayor in New Jersey.
The Bird is the Word and/or Devil in a Blue Dress,
I danced in a world of secrets; a few were mine.
My guilty father lost his license to practice.
I stole things till I asked for help from a friend.
She died two years ago now. In time, trug buckets
and finds trays would lift & sift the usual
bipedal suspects of fool’s gold and bone,
though ‘twas for me, like Miranda, all new.
One night I slept like spoons, like my mother
and me, when someone dear came to my bed.
A freshman, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Her restraint! It was possible to be that ignorant.
Now when I stand on this sedimentary surface,
my first seventeen years press far below already
creased under oldest grandson nearing seventeen.
These layers await the frontal folds of brain
into mind, memory, bemused archeology.

Lois BassenL. Shapley Bassen’s grandmother was a telegrapher on Wall Street a century ago who taught her to read and tapped messages to her in Morse Code on the wooden arm of a chair. She sees the world bifocally through science and art. A New Yorker living in Rhode Island, she is a multi-published & prize-winning author of fiction, poetry, & drama. She is an editor at https://www.craftliterary.com/. Her links are http://www.lsbassen.com/ ; https://www.facebook.com/ShapleyLoisBassen/? modal=admin_todo_tour; https://www.linkedin.com/in/lois-bassen-11482a5/