Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine From One Woman Of A Certain Age To Her Friends

I'm not sure you will understand this as a Valentine, gentle readers - so I feel a word of explication might be needed.  It is a Valentine to help us all remember that, past "the chains of flesh and time," the girls we once were are still part of us, that Elvis still has us in mind when he sings Love Me Tender, that this is a day to celebrate the love, the life, that remain; that, "until the last dance" we are still very much here.

Nearing Menopause, I Run into Elvis at Shoprite,

near the peanut butter. He calls me ma'am, like the sweet
southern mother's boy he was. This is the young Elvis,
slim-hipped, dressed in leather, black hair swirled
like a duck's backside. I'm in the middle of my life,
the start of the body's cruel betrayals, the skin beginning
to break in lines and creases, the thickening midline.
I feel my temperature rising, as a hot flash washes over,
the thermostat broken down. The first time I heard Elvis
on the radio, I was poised between girlhood and what comes next.
My parents were appalled, in the Eisenhower fifties, by rock
and roll and all it stood for, let me only buy one record,
"Love Me Tender," and I did.
     I have on a tight orlon sweater, circle skirt,
     eight layers of rolled-up net petticoats, all bound
     together by a woven straw cinch belt. Now I've come
     full circle, hate the music my daughter loves, Nine
     Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Crash Test Dummies.
     Elvis looks embarrassed for me. His soft full lips
     are like moon pies, his eyelids half-mast, pulled
down bedroom shades. He mumbles, "Treat me nice."
Now, poised between menopause and what comes next, the last
dance, I find myself in tears by the toilet paper rolls,
hearing "Unchained Melody" on the sound system. "That's all
right now, Mama," Elvis says, "Anyway you do is fine." The bass
line thumps and grinds, the honky tonk piano moves like an ivory
river, full of swampy delta blues. And Elvis's voice wails above
it all, the purr and growl, the snarl and twang, above the chains
of flesh and time.
                                                                                                  -Barbara Crooker


emmapeelDallas said...


Thank you and Happy Valentine's Day to you, too, Mari!

Cynthia said...

I love it.

Lisa :-] said...

For me, it was the Beatles. And miniskirts and go-go boots and long, straight hair.